Nice your freaking face off, man


In the news recently, we’ve heard much about the healthcare debate. And the protests. This last week, protestors reportedly shouted the “n” word at Representatives John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), spit upon Rep. Cleaver, and called Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) the “f” word.  The actions of these protestors has enraged many Americans. It is not uncommon for emotions and energy to build among large groups of people, causing actions to get out of hand–a sort of mob mentality. You see it at concerts, sports games, and yes, protests. And while our country protects our speech–even words offensive to others–using slurs rarely, if ever, achieves any utilitarian result.  As we move forward from these events (or ones like them ), here are a few things to keep in mind that I believe would drive our attitudes to something productive and positive:

1.    Pissing people off is a privilege we should treasure without taking advantage of it

We have the privilege in our country to voice our beliefs freely. And while the opinions of others may make our skin crawl, reacting against them in an equally negative way will not sway our opponent from their perspectives. Disagree, yes. State our opinion, yes. But retaliate? No. As hard as it may be, we should appreciate the ability to fervently disagree with one another–and we should try to have skin that is thick enough to withstand it. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order, but if we keep prosecuting people for their words (like the guy who was convicted of degrading his ex-mother-in-law’s dignity by calling her a few swear words–I swear it’s true), we could find our constitutional right to free speech slowly eroded by court rulings and reactive laws. Now, I’m NOT endorsing that type of hateful talk the protestors uttered. Trust me. I’m on the skin-crawling, sick-to-my-stomach side of this issue. But, I doubt calling them names make a difference. We must act constructively in this situation and realize that people say mean, awful things in charged situations and make something positive/productive out of it. Which brings me to the next point.

2. For each negative action, there is a WAY better positive reaction

This is an opportunity. For debate and for dialogue. And for change. It seems that in politics and in life, the newer trend is for people to get their voice heard by being the loudest (and possibly most obnoxious or extreme) voice in the room. And typically those voices don’t care about listening to others. They just wanna be heard and obeyed. Imagine how much farther we could get in our legislature, in our homes, in our jobs, and in our schools if we had a conversation. Disagree. Debate. But let’s talk. Get excited, be assertive. But listen. Let’s not yell or close ourselves off to new ideas or solutions. Don’t allow our emotions to overrun us so much that we forget how to give consideration, to concede on a few neutral points.  Even agree to disagree. Why not? Let’s talk about controversial issues at home, with our friends, with acquaintances. Let our children hear the healthy debate, the calm and spirited consideration of all the points. Then our children can learn how to make a well-educated decision and they can learn to be diplomatic rather than reactive.  And they can have a better future because of it. Discussing our views in this way is a sign of maturity, confidence and intelligence. And in acting as such, we are all role models to each other. Couldn’t we all use some positive examples? I know I could.

3.  Take the higher road, even if you’re mad and you’re afraid of heights

This is a time for many to be upset, enraged, wounded and offended. The words and actions of those individuals opened many wounds in our collective psyche. Now, or in the future, all of us will have a myriad of experiences as equally upsetting. We must remember: don’t retaliate. Educate. Don’t respond in kind. Acknowledge the pain, and then decide what positive actions will yield greater, more far-reaching results than that offensive experience. The legislators that were victims of the hateful speech this week did not press charges (as far as I know); they moved on. They’ve seen worse, heard worse. And they had more important things to do.

We can keep a watchful eye on intolerance and hate, but acting positively will do well to keep our society moving forward to a more tolerant, equal place.

And the best way to get back at the mean, nasty, prejudiced, racist, biased, sexist (and so on) people in our lives?  NICE their freaking faces off. Be so kind, so good, so fair and compassionate that it makes them ill!

So go! Be nice. Be positive. Live and let live. Respond to negativity constructively!  You’ll make ’em sick. You’ll make me proud. You’ll make a real difference.

Bad motorcyclist! Bad!

How many of you have parked in, or blocked, a disabled parking space (or ramp) for convenience? Just a quick run inside–it won’t hurt anyone, right? Well, it might not hurt anyone, but it terribly insensitive.

Last night, I dropped off my fiance at work and saw that a motorcyclist had parked his or her bike in the loading zone between two disable parking spots, rendering the loading area completely useless (and therefore the spots very useless). The nerve! Perhaps the biker thought it was more considerate to take that space than a standard parking space (the latter of which can be annoying indeed, but it isn’t illegal or nearly as insensitive). That driver made a misguided decision. Imagine being a person in a wheel chair. Not only might you have to traverse snow-piled sidewalks in the winter (often rendering you home-bound in snowy conditions), but getting around in general can be difficult. So consider the frustration one might feel if they could not utilize the parking area designated for loading and unloading wheel chairs. Especially when the spots are there specifically for the disabled. Frustrating.

With this in mind, here is some information to know and some easy things you can do to be more considerate to disabled individuals:

  • Shovel the snow off your sidewalks after the snowplows have passed (so the person can get to the street).
  • Never ever park in a disabled spot (or loading area) if you do not have the correct certification.
  • Don’t assume a disabled person is incapable of doing things for themselves. If they need help, they will ask. You can offer assistance, but be sure to always ask first before acting.
  • Never pet a guide dog or feed them treats.
  • Guide animals are allowed in all public places including restaurants and hotels.
  • Don’t touch a person’s wheelchair or scooter without permission. To many, it is an extension of their body, making that action offensive or off-putting.
  • Don’t ask a person’s disability. That is incredibly inappropriate.
  • Don’t assume that a disability is visible from the exterior. Many illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, may not be visibly in its early stages.
  • Hold doors, hold elevators, hit the disabled door-opener button, press the elevator floor, and many other courteous actions which you would do for anyone!
  • Support businesses run by the disabled. An example of this is Uptown Bill’s Small Mall in Iowa City, Iowa. Click on the link to read Bill’s story.
  • Volunteer for associations that assist the disabled.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(, 2008-2009.

What is this tube in my belly & where did my appendix go?

In “Thank You Dr. So-And-So,” I mentioned the importance of paying respect/courtesy to our medical professionals…..  After spending a large amount of time in and out of a hospital this last month interacting with doctors, I have to say that many, but not all, doctors need to return the favor.

I know they spend years studying and that many things are boring and old-hat to them, but to the patient the issues are serious and a tremendous concern. Disregarding questions and concerns with a shrug or an irritated look is not only rude and insensitive, it is irresponsible and disrespectful. Who knows what a doctor might learn if they gave the patient a chance to speak? If they didn’t treat the patient like they didn’t know anything?

Many patients like to know what the doctors outside the hospital room are saying to each other about the patient’s case when on their rounds. Why not give them that option? Why do patients have to ask over and over for test results, for answers, for basic post-op care instructions?  This can be a problem with “bedside manner” or this can be administrative and commuicative error.  Either way, it would make the world a nicer place with a little more patience and information.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.

Thank you, Dr. So-and-So

There is a forgotten habit that I find rather wonderful. I wonder how often people do it anymore (perhaps you could tell me)?  Here it is, plain and simple:

When you complete a meeting or an appointment, shake hands and say whatever you might say in your departure to the person with whom you met. And, if you like to make it more meaningful and personal, say their name. I like to do that with my doctors especially–I say, “Thank you Dr. So-and-So,”  and shake their hand.

I like to think that this little courtesy is a great way to show respect and to encourage their concern for you as well. I hope that my doctor will remember me a little better or care a little more than s/he might for any average patient when they attend to my concerns. Either way, I think that when you have as many relationships with people as health professionals do, it is nice to give them a little personal acknowledgment too.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.