Now that Iraq's fledgling democracy is moving forward, all Iraqis need to do is heed the advice of Robert Fulghum.
Fulghum is author of the essay "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." His thoughts apply to democracies as well as they do people.
"These are the things I learned. Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people."
For years in Iraq, Saddam's loyalists got palaces and the dough, and the poor got scraps. Anyone who tried to play fair got hit or worse. For democracy to succeed, it's essential Iraqis learn to share, play fair and stop hitting each other.
"Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess."
The right to acquire and take care of your property is the lifeblood of a thriving democracy. It's a tall order to expect people long suppressed by a brutal dictator to quickly learn to function within a free society, but that's what you're going to have to do.
"Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody."
You have a constitution now and the rule of law. Nobody may take your property anymore, and you'll have legal recourse, backed by your constitution, when disputes arise. When someone wrongs you, he may not say he's sorry, but in a well-functioning democracy, you'll have the support of your government to make him sorry.
"Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that."
I hope and pray that the seed of democracy in Iraq grows and blossoms, too. I hope President Bush, and his idealistic belief that all human hearts long for freedom and that democracy can work anywhere, is correct. I hope that Iraq's democracy grows big and strong, even though nobody understands how or why.
"Think of what a better world it would be if we all the whole world had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap."
Ah, if only Saddam had relaxed this way. Maybe it would have given him perspective. Maybe he might have overcome his desire to destroy his enemies and rule over the entire Middle East. If Iraqis have cookies and milk and a nap every afternoon, their energy might be restored enough to realize what an opportunity they have before them.
"Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some."
Iraq is the cradle of civilization, and I hope that with a successful democracy, a powerful renaissance sweeps over your country and the entire Middle East. I hope stability will take hold and that a free economy will unleash new investment and prosperity. I hope Iraqis will know the optimism that Americans take for granted and that your growing economy will allow you to draw and paint and sing and dance every day of the week.
"It is still true that no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together."
Unity is definitely the key to success in life unity in family, in community and in love of country. We've not been successful in maintaining our unity in America as we face a unique and ferocious foe, but you have no choice. You don't have to like each other, but if you want your democracy to survive, you better hold hands and stick together.
Now if we can only get America and the rest of the world to remember these simple concepts, we might be on to something.