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Monday, August 27, 2007

Nice ain't easy

Deborah, my friend and colleague at Climate of Our Future, has passed along to me the Nice Matters Award. I was a bit hesitant to acknowledge the honor at first, as there's a bit of a stigma attached to having a "nice" rep in some circles. The flowery pink image doesn't mesh well with society's macho expectations either. To a large extent, nice has been linked to weak, and our minds are impressed with the misconception that folk of that nature finish last.

That association is of course too bad. The world would be a much better place if thoughtfulness and consideration were personal traits valued as highly as ambition and self-sufficiency. Jesus sermonized on the mount that the meek would inherit the earth, but that prophecy is still pending. The world's movers and shakers learned long ago not to let morality get in the way of their business. Machiavelli's The Prince has served as the true political gospel for 500 years, and its pragmatism doesn't prize anything beyond self-preservation.

I fancy myself an optimist who believes that human beings are inherently very kind and giving creatures. Most of us are willing to reach beyond our narrow self interests and collaborate and contribute toward a better world. That gentler nature can be conditioned out of us, however, especially when we're convinced that our survival is at stake. As has been clearly illustrated over the past 6 years, fear can be used very effectively to divide us and call forth our baser instincts.

By accepting this award, I hope to do my small part to take Nice back from the nay sayers. Consider it a salvo in the war to salvage true community in a world too often given over to ruthless competition. Let's re-imagine our society so that it becomes a place where we practice what we preach, and reward those who think of others as much as themselves. I've come into contact with a good number of fellow bloggers who are after that very same thing. Deborah is one shining example.

The Nice Matters Award was created by Genevieve Olsen at Bella Enchanted. While at her site, I discovered there's a gentleman's version of the badge (shown on the left). As a recipient, it's my duty to pass on the honor, but most of the folks who have been particularly supportive to me in my virtual endeavors have already been acknowledged. Never one to get discouraged by conformity to rules, I'm going to list them among my shout outs anyway:

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