Lessons from Winnie-the-Pooh for the Soon-to-Be President

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Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

Today is National Winnie-the-Pooh Day, which commemorates the birthday of A.A. Milne, the children’s author who brought the beloved bear to life. In preparation to celebrate this day, I decided to reread The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, but with the current political climate and the anxiety it has caused me, I found myself not being enchanted by the adventures of Pooh and company as I did when I was a child. Instead, I was struck by how the lessons of kindness and friendship so easily portrayed by these characters are still not common sense for some, and particularly for the man taking the most powerful position in our country the day after tomorrow. So, with just two days until the Inauguration, here’s some wisdom from Winnie-the-Pooh that could come in handy for our PEOTUS of Very Little Brain.

Let’s start with the basics…

A quote from Eeyore simply about how to be a decent human being (or donkey, as it were):

“A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.”

Now for some specific stories…

In the chapter where Kanga and Roo first move to the Hundred Acre Wood, Rabbit is initially wary of the newcomers and devises a plot to try to get rid of them (remind you of someone?). Luckily, Rabbit was able to realize he was wrong to jump to conclusions about the seeming “outsiders” and ends up enjoying playing with Baby Roo, while Kanga becomes great friends with Pooh. In the end, the two become valuable citizens of the Hundred Acre Wood and irreplaceable members of the gang.

In another story, Rabbit comes up with a plan to make Tigger feel “Small and Sorry” simply because Tigger’s bouncy personality does not appeal to him. But, as we learn, those who try to make others feel small by tricking them into getting lost in the cold forest, like Rabbit, or by antagonizing and abusing them, like someone else we know, will be the ones who are Small and Sorry in the end. The Tiggers of the world, those with open hearts and minds, who answer hate with love, will come out on top, bouncing.

A child as a role model to us all…

Throughout the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, Christopher Robin – the son of A.A. Milne and the kindly human friend of Pooh and the rest – stands out as a model of warmth and acceptance that even us adults could learn from. No matter how foolish Pooh is, how fearful Piglet is, how pessimistic Eeyore is, how nitpicky Rabbit is, how arrogant Owl is… No matter their faults, Christopher Robin never fails to lend a helping hand to his friends. He laughs off their mistakes and openly tells them how much he loves and cares for them, showing that love and kindness can be the solution to any problem. Additionally, Christopher Robin fervidly praises his friends when they are successful or heroic, and even allows them to take full credit for successes and heroism that he himself contributed to, in order to lift them up, showing that boasting and hoarding attention are not virtuous.

Illustration by Ernest H. Shepard