BE NICE – Marilyn Armstrong

I often feel like I should print a million t-shirts and bumper stickers that say: “BE NICE.” If I had the money, I’d do it and I’d stand on a busy street corner and hand them out.

Be nice and a better world will follow.

I don’t expect everyone to agree. I don’t even think having everyone agree is inherently a good thing. We need opposition. Controversy should be a positive development in politics and other areas of thought.

Phoenix sunset – Photo: Garry Armstrong

On the other hand, I believe civility would heal a lot of wounds. You don’t call people ugly names no matter what you believe because doing so is cruel, hurtful, and mean-spirited.

You don’t need a better reason. You don’t need “PC Police.” Keep a civil tongue in your head is a good enough reason.

I grew up in a household where we never, ever called anybody by any name that referred to their race or religion. This wasn’t only if someone of that race or religion was present. This was a general rule and applied 100% of the time, whether we were alone or in company. Nobody called names.

It was clearly and completely understood by everyone this was an absolute and rigid rule. No exceptions. Unless it was a literal quote and you were making a point about the speech, it was forbidden. Into my adulthood, I never heard anyone in my house — not kids or adults — racially or religiously insult anyone. Come to think of it, I didn’t hear it from any of my friends, either.

Sunset in the desert – Photo: Garry Armstrong

What anyone might have thought privately? I don’t know and I don’t care.

In our house, those words were never used. Garry says he was brought up the same way. Maybe if more parents refused to spout hateful words and made sure their kids didn’t use them either, the world would be a more civilized place for all of us.

Categories: Photography, Racism and Bigotry

Tags: , , , ,

26 replies

  1. Being polite is the thin veneer of society that tends to keep the wheels going around more smoothly.


  2. That was a better, simpler time though. I don’t know why it morphed into having to have someone TELL people the rules some of us grew up understanding. We didn’t have to be told. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t grow up in the same sort of household as you and Garry. Even at the foster home, there was a great deal of racially based hatred going on. However. Some of us (me for one) just KNEW that calling people those names and seeing the world as ‘them’ and ‘us’ was not something worthy of our time. Not worthy to be mentioned. I have to say it took working at a University to drive my finer inclinations home, because in that atmosphere there was NO division based on color or religion or any of that. I had carried a grudge against a certain race of people from my experiences at the foster home and I was finally able to lose it. I worked with people of that particular race and found them intelligent and kind and I knew then something that I’ve carried with me ever since: Allowing bigotry and hatred against another because of their race or color or religion only damages the hater. Hubby was of the same mind. His father (and his son, sadly) were/are bigots of the first water. Amazing.


    • It is one of the reasons I always tried to raise Owen in racially mixed areas. I wanted him to know that it was perfectly fine to be friends with any kind of people, whether they looked (or acted) like you or not. Fortunately, Owen’s father agreed, even though he had his own particular prejudices. He didn’t believe in them. He just had them. AND he worked at a University. If nothing else, college (usually, most of the time) teaches you a higher understanding of acceptance.


  3. I do not recall any member of my family using any term that denigrated others while I was growing up. It wasn’t discussed, it was simply not done. Times and acceptable terms change… but being nice doesn’t.


  4. We never did either. Race/religion were totally off limits. Cursing wasn’t though, and it was fine to refer to someone as an “asshole” or a “fucking idiot” if we judged them as such. That’s normal now everywhere and it is making everything mean and ugly. It’s hard to stop once you’re in the habit, especially when you feel so righteous about the goodness of your “side.”


  5. Be nice. It shouldn’t be that hard. Treat others as you would like to be treated. We should not need a million rules about being PC to do that.


  6. Same here. Mum and dad had other problems and my surroundings in East London were always multi culti. Unfortunately it seems that the area now has many street crimes of stabbing, racial hatred etc. It is difficult to grow up in such an are and stay nice.


  7. Totally agree with you on this one!


  8. Love the carved graffiti one, especially


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