In 1990, Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. He listed the basic values of sharing, playing fair, apologizing and fully embracing the Golden Rule.
Fulghum added the value of “warm cookies and cold milk” and reminded readers that basic acts of human decency – like truthfulness, fairness and treating others respectfully – are not for a season but for a lifetime.
I didn’t attend kindergarten but spent those childhood years at home under the watchful eye of my mother. My brothers and I read books, ate cookies, got into occasional spats, but mostly created our own fun.
At age 6, I had to give up shooting marbles in a finger-drawn circle of dirt and board the big yellow bus for the first grade. The expected values and behavior there continued to match what I’d learned at home – and within the full saturation of church life.
Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and all the other church stuff reinforced those familiar messages repeatedly, adding that being a good person who does these good things is not only right but also pleasing to God.
“Be ye kind one to another.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. … They are precious in his sight.”
Tell the truth and share your stuff. Remember that God is watching.
This was back when conservative Christians used to at least pretend to believe in honesty and decency. Recently, however, I have learned from many such friends that there’s a qualifier we were not taught.
The values of truthfulness, decency and the loving treatment of all others don’t apply if you feel threatened by shifting demographics and the loss of cultural dominance.
If liberty and justice for all (even those who look and think differently from us) starts becoming more than a recited line, then it is OK to go into a defensive posture, redefine Christianity in narrow, self-serving political terms and toss aside those Sunday School-induced values.
Tarnish the Golden Rule and focus on my freedom, my feelings and my interest.
To hell with “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Stand up for yourself and your rights.
Oh, good conservative Christians, why didn’t you tell us you were just kidding?
I would have taken someone else’s cookie and told them it was my right.
This recent invalidation of the basic, moral principles – taught to kids for generations by families and church leaders – was not something I saw coming. And it didn’t take much to give it all up.
Now, rather than a “deep and wide” faith, it’s Sunday School values comin’ down. All in order to prop up a political house built on the sandy foundation of fear, deceit and the demeaning of others created in the image of God.
This will not end well. O be careful little feet where you go.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.