I have noticed recently many Facebook posts that are giving “being nice” a bad rap. In fact, what I have seen in many of these posts, is the idea that not only is being nice not something to achieve in life but that we should not be nice. These posts are typically in connection with some of the difficulties our nation and our world is facing as we navigate the many political landmines out there. Many of the issues we are facing in our world today do not have an easy solution. As Shrek would say these issues are like onions, they have many layers and when you peel one back, instead of getting to the heart of the issue in question, you only find yet another layer that needs to be dealt with.
So, unfortunately it seems, we are being encouraged to take a stand and not be nice about it. We are being asked to demand these issues, whether we are talking about immigration, infrastructure, sexual harassment, partisan politics on all sides, or a plethora of other difficulties, be addressed using any means we deem necessary. The belief seems to be that in order to actually get them addressed effectively, we need to drop being nice. I think we first need to understand what it means to be nice. Because I believe we can effectively change these major issues and still maintain our civility. We can get things done and still be nice. Nice, while it may be a four letter word, is still a good word and a good thing to become in our lives and in our interactions with others.
According to Dictionary.com, words used to define nice include being pleasing, pleasant, kind, (another word people are against these days) and amiable. But as I continued looking into the definition for the adjective “nice.” I also discovered that nice can mean, “Great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, and delicacy,” which surprised me as I have always used the word in association with someone who is pleasant or polite.
I think, personally, I like the idea of nice being equated with being polite as well as being tactful. We can be nice, and still stand firm in our beliefs. We can be nice as we offer a critical assessment. We can be nice and still be discerning. We can be nice and still get things done. I like how Jesus put it when he sent his disciples out among the people in Matthew 10:16: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In our modern language we might say be discerning but nice…be critical but agreeable…be tactful but civil. I believe you get the idea. We can take a stand…nicely.
Please know, I understand the frustration of those who would like to go “Hulk” all over the people in charge. But when we do, we leave a path of destruction in our wake. We create more problems that only add to the mountain of issues we need to solve and we spiral ever downward. It is time to stop the madness! We do need to demand that things change and one of the best ways we can help change the landscape of our nation and our world is to begin by being nice to all the people we interact and that is not just our family and friends. That means everyone including those you don’t like and those you disagree with. Calling people names of any kind is not helpful as it only adds to the hurt and brokenness littering our lives and world. Growing up, my mom always taught my brother and I that if we could not say anything nice…don’t say anything. It was and still is great advice.
So you may be wondering: What can I/we do? Well, you could channel the Southern influence and say to everyone, “Why bless your sweet little heart.” Or maybe not…since that phrase is a passive/aggressive way to not be nice Southern style. We can however, vote according to what we believe and who we feel will do the best job. (You will get absolutely NO recommendations along those lines from me) We can write to our representatives making our thoughts known. We can support charitable foundations that help in the areas we are passionate. (Please, take the time to first vet those foundations to ensure the money goes to where it is needed and not for salaries or administrative costs.) You can volunteer. You can do all those and much more…but the first change I hope you make is to re-define how you view all people. Here is the definition I use with everyone I know, with everyone I meet, with everyone: “Created by God, made in God’s image, and fiercely loved by God.” It is pretty hard to vilify someone, anyone, when you see them in the light of God’s love. It is also a lot easier to just be nice.
*In case you would like to look into the definition of nice or take the time to look up other words I use dictionary.com. It is a great resource.