October 28, 2010

Be Nice

I watched the evening news the other night.  This is not something I normally do, but it's election season, and I wanted to see what everyone has been talking about.  that included the ads, which I had been mostly spared from.

Well.  The news had the usual election coverage.  One story in particular focused on negative ads, and highlighted California's governor and senate races.  The story played clips of some of the ads, but since I happen to live in California, I got to see the same ads in their entirety when the news broke for commercials.

My, what a bunch of name-calling!  Defaming your opponents character seems to be the primary qualification to run for office these days.

The news program returned, and described a scufle among supporters that took place outside a building where two candidates were debating.  One supporter -- a member of one of the candidate's campaign team, I believe -- actually stomped on the head of one of the other candidate's supporters.

Another commercial break.  More name-calling, put-downs, and downright nastiness.

Back to the news program, for the final story of the broadcast.  It described the findings of a new study which showed that a surprisingly high number of our nation's youth have bullied others or have been the victims of bullying.

Gee, I wonder where they learned how to behave like that....

Be nice.  It sounds so trite, so hackneyes, to say that.  English teachers tell their students to avoid using the word "nice."  They say that it's so overused and non-specific that it doesn't mean anything.

OK.  Here are some alternative ways to say it:  Be curteous.  Be friendly.  Be civil.  Be respectful.

Those of us in the church might even say:  Be loving.  Be a good neighbor.

Why?  Because our bullying and rudeness are killing people.  Teen suicides in the news have been described as the result of bullying.  (Many of these suicides were committed by youth who were gay or perceived to be gay.)  And weren't many of those who have carried out school shootings, like the one at Columbine High School, picked on and made to feel as outcasts?

I say it again:  be nice.

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