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Dr. Grauer's Column - The Only Rule

The Only Rule

I woke up this morning remembering the Seinfeld television show episode where a fire breaks out at a party. George Costanza looks at the door realizing few would be able to get out: such a crowded room, such a small door. So he bolts straight through the crowd, knocking people down on the way, first one out.

Pandemic morning. Two teachers meet early, maybe they will try a morning meditation together. Peace of mind. She says, Wait, I have to do a few things to get ready. He says, Hurry up or I will start doing nothing without you. 

How can we work any harder? How can we slow things down?

Dr. Grauer speaking to students at the school's weekly assembly - March 10, 2020

The headmaster has sent out a message cancelling some school activities as a way of containing spread of a virulent infection. One family writes in expressing deep gratitude and support. One family writes in feverishly that it will cost them money. Another family says their vacation plans have been ruined. Another writes in asking to help: “What do you need?” One family insists on giving advice and another badly wants it. A few students sense an opening. They want to fly off. Others gather together. All this “shift.” All this is our community.

We are the Grauer School Gorillas …Senior Christian B. '20 compares our upperclassmen to the silverback gorilla—they protect and role model for the young ones. We look after one another.

Let’s do this together, in all our wild and comedic manifestations. As of today, the legacy of the class of 2020 silverbacks is going to include a global pandemic, a time of enormousness. This is their Kennedy, this is their 9/11. I offer them this: Let this be the senior class that provided leadership in a tough time, and that helped the younger ones in our community navigate a really challenging spring. Notice: In a week’s time, we do not even know if our campus will be open—how will we look after one another? Who will fly? Who will be resourceful? Who are the silverbacks?

For my part, I'm grateful for the many ways we are taking care of each other and working to strengthen this amazing, unique, loving community. Especially our teachers. And I'm reminded time and again of how important it is that we continue to be clear about our mission and values: resourcefulness, compassion, perseverance, courage… and that we consciously work to strengthen the bonds in our community… and that we take care of each other.

Grauer student Jack T. '23 relaxing in nature during a Physical Education class excursion - February 12, 2020

Here are the rules I have been following all along. My offering in a time of pandemic. I’ve never shared them before, and I need them now. The rules: 

  1. You have no real rules but those you practice. The rest are theories. When the going gets tough, we see the real nature of people, not just the theories they express.
  2. Beware of people with theories (other than the golden rule). Theories often get in the way of open-mindedness. Suspend assumptions, let go of certainties, listen.
  3. Most people are unaware of the theories they practice–when we discover these presumptions, perhaps in our subconscious, we become happier.  Wiser. Only then are we capable of change. Only then are we listening.
  4. Demonstrating understanding and empathy of another person is always valuable; actually agreeing or disagreeing with them is less valuable. 
  5. If you spend too much effort trying to agree on all the details of what you are agreeing on, you will never agree. There is no end to details. A lot of decision-making is intuitive, anyway. 
  6. Being right and taking a stand is overrated in a lot of situations. (Proof is not persuasion.) Sometimes I say to my students, “Save the revolution for things that matter.”
  7. (The only rule). Openness is happiness.


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Dr. Grauer speaking to students at the school's weekly assembly - March 10, 2020

Grauer student Jack T. '23 relaxing in nature during a Physical Education class excursion - February 12, 2020

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