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Just be nice


Mary Jane Owen

  A comment in a recent “Hey Henry” caught my eye. One of the entries on “gun control” mentioned the notion of “civility.” I’m not stupid enough to argue with anybody on the gun issue because few things I hold as truths are very popular these day so I’m going to let that go. Leave it to somebody else to tackle. BUT I’m quite willing to agree with the comment that what we need is more civility. Getting right to the point “Just be nice.” I’ve heard my Mother say this a million times, although I think she may have actually said “Be sweet!”

  I just happened to be reading a recently published book about former presidents entitled The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity. The premise of this interesting book is the manner in which sworn enemies, former presidents, have come together recently, or came together in years past, to advise, support, comfort and often befriend each other for the good of the country. Of the examples from the stories included in the book, the most amazing one to me is the father-son relationship between George H. W. Bush (41) and Bill Clinton. That remarkable relationship that became apparent following the devastation from the Haitian hurricane and the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. These two were asked by President Bush 43 to investigate the damage and return with recommendations.

  That experience has created an enduring relationship. This is amazing when you consider their well publicized animosity. It set me to thinking that if these two men, who were 180 degrees apart in political philosophy, temperament, each representing two widely different generations, not to mention bitter enemies on the campaign trail can get along, it would surely seem that we ordinary folks might emulate their behavior. Overlooking each other’s weaknesses and foibles could not have been easy for these two, but together they have provided a model for all of us. No matter our political, religious or social differences, we might just give niceness a try.

  The issues that bring out the worst in us are often important; we all have a right to our opinions and certainly the right to express them freely. Having a gun does not make one a demon; similarly neither Republicans nor Democrats are devils. The same is true about Muslims who are not all terrorists. Gun owners and Democrats are our neighbors and, more often than not, our friends and neighbors. Making hateful remarks about those who do not share our views ignores our freedom as Americans to be what we chose. All this vitriol is sickening but it dominates the air waves, keeps us stirred up and potentially renders us less effective as leaders of the free world. Jerry Springer’s “guests” and dirty athletes are not nice and it is sad that a lack of common courtesy and niceness has become fodder for our entertainment. Has it become an American culture trait that we enjoy nastiness? Let us hope not...

  It does not have to be this way if we are willing to think about what comes of this in daily social interactions. Being nice, saying “please,” “thank you,” “beg your pardon” or “excuse me” have a way of greasing the wheels of social intercourse! Using hateful words and acting “ugly” is not becoming to any of us unless one just loves being a pain in the “you know what!” And I know just as well as anybody, some of us do enjoy that role. Too bad, and we wonder why a few of our young folks think throwing food is fun, the result of which was leaving a mess for some underpaid poor souls to clean up. Maybe it would “be nice” if these kids could spend some quality time at a food pantry or homeless shelter. That would be mighty nice!



  Mary Jane Owen is a veteran educator. She has two children, one grandson and is a member of the McDonough Presbyterian Church. She’s an avid Braves fan, reads, writes, and gardens.




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