Friday, October 1, 2010

nice matters

as a writer, i've been conditioned to avoid "nice" like the plague. nothing should ever be described as "nice" - except in dialogue - because "nice" is vague, ineffable. you can't point to something and say "that's what nice is."

but maybe, come to think of it, you can.

another hate crime is splashed across the cyber-scape: this one culminated in a young man's suicide. he was a college student, was good at music. his room-mate thought it would be funny to film a sexual encounter between this young man and another. when it was made public on the web, the young man killed himself.

whoever turned the webcam and thought it would be funny to film such a thing wasn't nice. that person was low and petty and mean and small-minded and deserves everything i hope the DA is about to throw at him. and her, because there was more than one person involved. but the question is, where did these kids - because they are kids - learn such behavior? where did they learn it's okay to be mean to someone?

my suspicion is they learned it from their parents.

my book club recently read a book called You're Wearing That? by Deborah Tannen. far be it from me to dispute ms tannen's findings, but if that's really how most mothers talk to most daughters, i guess i understand why the world is such a despicable place. there's a difference between disciplining a child and being mean to a child and if you're not sure what that difference is, here's a clue. put yourself in the child's place and imagine yourself on the receiving end of whatever it is you're saying. and for mothers with daughters - especially the ones who participated in ms tannen's study - here's another: as long as the child is dressed appropriately for the weather and her basic hygiene needs are met, allow her her own choices in clothing, hair and overall appearance. it's none of your business how anyone chooses to wear their hair, and that includes your kid's.

because mean matters. and nice counts.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

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Walk in the Woods said...

So sad. Meanness is a quality with which I am well acquainted. I grew up around it and it seems a behavior that spreads like rot through much of my family.

I am grateful that my father coached me, on more than one occasion, to "always put on the other guy's shoes."

Yes … Nice does matter. Blessings.

Kathy said...

I used to think that sarcasm was wit. Sentimental was a really bad word in our house. Sentimental often meant being nice or showing genuine joy for something not ... I don't know... logical? reasonable? rational? This is not to say my mother wasn't a nice person. She stood up for the rights of others, she did not judge of others, she was very kind to strangers. But you really wouldn't want to tell her she was nice...

annie kelleher said...

oh kathy, i dont think my kids would say i was "nice" either... but i dont think they'd call me mean... which is more important, i think. and yeah, rose, i grew up in one of those families, too. sigh.

Kim said...

Nice really does matter. I try really hard to use the right words with my kids - they don't always think I'm nice but I'm not mean. And I try to instill in them that other people - even the bully's have feelings.

Robin Larkspur said...

I found your blog through Mrs. B's October celebration, and look forward to reading through your essays and archives! So glad to have discovered you. Bright Blessings to you.

Ketutar said...

I would call it "kind" and not "nice". Nice to me is more a matter of preferences, as when kind - and unkind - is more... unquestionable.

It wasn't nice to film another's sexual encounters, but I'm sure that the one who did it doesn't give a dime about what others think is "nice".

In my mind the mere idea is immature, and I expect more of college students.
I think it's stupid, and I don't know what kind of people think it's even interesting to WATCH this. Even if one of the persons involved would be Paris Hilton. I have nothing against porn, but people's private sexual encounters are not porn.
I didn't think it was funny when they did it in MASH.

If I was this person's parent, I would be VERY disappointed by my offspring showing such a lack of taste, maturity and compassion, and the fact that who ever it was who filmed this, has nothing better to do with his time, camera and internet connection. Shows that this child has too much of all of those in his hands...

Whom do I blame? Everyone who went to see the video. Everyone who commented about the video, either online or to the victim. The offender's friends, family and teachers, who have failed miserably in teaching him some humane behavior and respect of boundaries, and who have succeeded splendidly in teaching the kid that he doesn't need to care one bit of things like respect and human rights.

I blame the parents, friends and teachers of the victim too. I understand what it is like to be a different and sensitive child, but the fact that the kid saw no other way out of the unbearable situation than to kill himself, tells very clearly, that no-one had told him about the other ways.

Not only to we need to teach our children their RIGHTS and how to stand for their rights, but
We need to teach our children to stand by the VICTIM, not to join the mob of vultures and hyenas.
We need to teach our children to stay and help, when someone is being bullied, even if that makes themselves the objects of bullying.
We need to teach the authorities to LISTEN to the VICTIMS, not the offenders.
We need to stop telling such idiotic things like "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". I have never heard anything as stupid as that. Everyone with feelings know that words do hurt, and sometimes badly. People who have been bullied show the VERY SAME SYMPTOMS as the victims of TORTURE.


We need to understand, acknowledge and accept this as truth and teach our children that TORTURE IN ALL ITS FORMS IS DESPICABLE AND WRONG.
We need to put stop on bullying in all areas of society, from kindergarten to workplaces, from schools to army, from homes to internet.
We need to start thinking that there are more parts in humanity than the physical. There's social abuse, economical abuse, mental abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse going on, AND THAT TOO MUST STOP.
We need to start acknowledging damage done to our spirit, not only to material possession and body.

And we need to do this by our example.

I would put the perps into community service, where they must make a movie about why young people commit suicide. Having interviewed dozens of people who have lost a friend, child or loved one to suicide, would probably make them think a bit about the consequences of their actions, and hopefully make them choose better next time.
THEN I would force these kids (and their parents) to get some therapy, where the point in their lives were dug up, the point when they understood that they live in a "dog eat dog" "survival of the strongest" society, where their needs and boundaries and rights don't matter, and get them to understand that they do matter. Get them to understand the importance of KINDNESS.

Ketutar said...

I wrote a comment, and go carried away, so internet ate my comment. :-( TOo long, it said.

So I rewrote it here: