Be nice …. I don’t think it would be a stretch for the majority of us to envision my friend Pelzie’s young 6 year old son and 5 year old daughter arguing, provoking and skirmishing over any number of things.
Remembering a time when my brother Walt and I were about the same age, whenever we took a trip in the car we could be found sitting in its spacious back seat. My idea of spacious wasn’t always the same as Walt’s (to his chagrin, I used to call him Wally). Predictably, Wally would draw an imaginary line delineating his theoretically protected area. To me this line only represented a place where I had to go to cross over! To this day, I vividly remember “consistently encroaching” on my brother’s territory. I can’t imagine how we must have driven our parents crazy! Be nice, to whom, my brother? Looking back, those were fun times for a kid but was I being nice to my brother? No, I can safely say, I wasn’t! Did Wally and I learn how to exist together? I sometimes wonder! I knew my older brother Wally’s emotional hot buttons and, ostensibly to survive, I was relentless in pushing them. My parents would put up with us to a point and then my mom or dad would speak. I don’t think they said “be nice” but the tone of their voice certainly implied it!
Be nice … as we grow up, I think that simple be nice takes on a myriad of meanings. Personally, I think be nice includes the basic core values of respect, empathy, fairness.
We might not understand those words when we are 6 years old but we should understand them once we enter into the real world. I think most of us have a basic understanding of respect, empathy and fairness but, I’m not so sure if we consistently live these values.
Is there a reason we don’t live them? When I was a kid, it was very easy for me to rationalize that I needed more backseat territory and, if I could pester my brother into giving it to me, well … wasn’t that Wally’s problem?
I sometimes wonder if many people today easily rationalize to not be nice, respectful, empathetic or fair by deluding themselves into thinking “in order to survive, this is how the big kids must act”! We see and hear this every day in the financial industry when certain investment banks don’t play nice by indiscriminately selling flawed financial instruments, large hedge fund managers not playing nice by using insider and unfair trading practices to manipulate markets, national politicians, on both sides, not playing nice by utilizing dirty politics. In essence, aren’t these businessmen, bankers, hedge fund managers and politicians giving all of us permission to not be nice?
Too bad these unprincipled men and women didn’t have Pelzie as a father when they were growing up.