Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why Be Nice?

This post was written two days before the horrors in Paris...

It’s a bit early, or late, for bah humbug, but from the way the year is starting off I can’t help but wonder whether it pays to be nice.  I’ve always felt being called a “nice guy” was an accolade, not a sign of weakness.  But sometimes it can be a burden being nice. Just ask Annamaria.  Not Everett.

So here’s what has me rethinking my philosophy.  I’ve heard the following recently: “Don’t talk about US politics on your blog.  It’s not nice.”  “Don’t talk about Greek politics on your blog. It’s not nice.”  “Don’t talk about anything but murder.  That’s nice.”

Ya gotta be kidding me folks.  I just finished killing off a few folks—including one Michael C. Dillman––but they all deserved to check out in my fictional world.  The question is, if we’re prepared to say a mortal bye-bye to bad guys in fiction, why do we accept the continued political existence of real life bad guys each time they’re up for office?

Perhaps it’s because of the way the stories are told.  For example, if we had a real life narrator objectively putting the facts of our world out there before us, I wonder how we would vote on reelecting those who serve us?   Of course that will never happen.  Au contraire, there are far too many paid to spin the truth (and lies) for profit and political power.  There will never be an honest narrator of our lives—beyond ourselves.

How about our free press?  And I’m talking about objective media. How many of you who actually knew first-hand the details of a story you later read about or viewed, scratched your head in wonder at how far from the actual facts and their true import the reported story had drifted?  That’s not to say the media intentionally misstated events, just that in real life there is no accurate, omniscient narrator, no matter how much our media may like to claim that role.

So, where does that leave us?  Are we to be victims of our own predilections, prejudices, biases, and knee-jerk reactions?  Those who manage public opinion for power and profit sure as hell hope so.  They make careers out of knowing how to mine and exploit those tendencies.

Is there an answer to our dilemma?   If I knew one, I just might have to sell out to the dark side and use what I knew to bring all of you around to my way of thinking—which of course is the only right way to think.

But I don’t know the answer.  One thing I do know is that instinct is not a good measure when it comes to judging candidates, much as I wish it were.  There’s no way to make a decision based upon images crafted by consultants.  Nor based upon how much one sweats before cameras, a practiced smile, a macho gesture, a stammer, a stumble, or a gift of eloquence.  Hearsay is no better from one who met the candidate for a minute or even ten somewhere along the way.  After all, how has trusting your instincts worked out for you so far in picking winners?

I guess that leaves us with only one thing to go on: How have those who ask you to trust them with the future of your nation done in keeping their word along the way?  What have they promised in past campaigns, and how did their promises measure up once they got what they wanted from you? And I’m not talking about the courtesy of flowers or chocolates after the deed is done.

We all know most politicians will say whatever it takes to get and stay elected, but why must we accept such prevarication as inevitable?  Yes, the next ones may be just as big liars, but then vote them out, too.  Let it be known that character counts.  It’s up to the electorate to establish in the minds of the candidates that the electorate has a long memory and will hold them accountable, no matter if they switch parties or labels.  As the old adage goes,  “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

What I’m suggesting is that voters take off their rose-colored, Mister Nice guy glasses, and start taking names and kicking asses.

After all, being sheepish won’t work in these times, because for sheep the future offers only two choices:  Shearing or Slaughter.



  1. Yes, Jeff. And it seems to me that NOT keeping their campaign promises is the onliest thing that the House of Representatives has been doing for nearly a decade. Unless we count infighting. I have said it here before and I am saying it again. My favorite quote from Mark Twain: "Politicians and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason."

  2. I love Mark Twain almost as much as I do you, AA. Term limits is most definitely a big part of any solution. So, too, is campaign financing reform. But does anyone seriously think either will happen? It would require a grass-roots constitutional amendment campaign across each state, because the wolves who get elected will never allow the sheep to cut short their time in, or access to, the barn.

  3. Unfortunately, the situation sucks. It's always sucked, it sucks now, and it will suck in the future. How's that for a positive attitude? It's the nature of the beast. Greed drives everything, and power draws those who are greedy, because it means money and more power to get whatever you're greedy for. And greedy folks are (I'm going out on a limb here) not the nicest folks around.

    The best we (the 'nice' people, and I say the self-inclusive 'we' regardless of what Jeff thinks) can do is throw as many roadblocks and dead ends into the greedy bastards paths as is humanly possible. It'll slow 'em down a little bit, and is a lot more fun than sitting around saying, "Oh, woe is me!" But no matter how we change the system, greed will always find the loop-holes, the ways to break the system in their favor.

    I agree, AmA, that Twain quote ranks up there near the top of a long list of great quotes!

    1. Way to go, EvKa! I like this no more Mister Nice Guy approach of yours. Can't wait to see it in person in Portland. As for Greed, for sure it permeates politics, but in one land it actually shares the first four letters of the place...and I'm not talking about Greenland.

  4. I'm sure some of you read that article somewhere (Blonde statement!) about Putin's spin doctor. He's the chap who has a policy of constantly releasing facts and figures, that all slightly but never totally, contradict each other. The situation in the Crimea was a perfect example of mis/information. It's rather clever as the opposition have no real idea what to oppose. I think David Cameron is following the same illogical logic. Britain is fast coming out the downturn, unemployment is at it's lowest level for years. But we are still 'quantative easing'.

    "It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." Douglas Adams.

  5. Funny you should make that observation, Caro. Last night I was at a dinner party thrown by some Greek friends and the point was made that one of Greece's dominant political leaders of the last half of the 20th Century was notorious for being able to speak cogently on any issue for an hour and at the end people would look at one another and not be able to say what he'd just said! Put differently, something for everyone, nothing for attribution.

  6. Vote them out? How often before going to the polls do I quote Shakespeare to myself: "A plague on both your houses." How many votes involve the lesser of evils rather than the happy choice of a candidate?

    1. Ah, yes, the Evils. Reminds me of the adage that's come back to haunt us all, Barbara: All one needs for evil to prevail is for the good to do nothing.