With your host


Do I have your undivided attention? Good. Now read this commentary very carefully, without fidgeting or interrupting, because fidgeting and interrupting aren't nice.

In fact, lots of perfectly normal human behaviors aren't nice. When you were a kid, your parents probably devoted lots of quality time to teaching you the distinction between nice behavior and bad behavior. Nice behavior involved cooperating with your little friends, sharing, and waiting your turn. Bad behavior included browbeating your buddies into submission, commandeering all the toys, and taking all the 'turns' you damn well felt like taking.

Most important of all, you were probably taught that violence never solves anything, which is, quite demonstrably, what I refer to as a "steaming pile" (not a nice expression, but apt nonetheless). The incontrovertible, empirically-derived fact of the matter is that there have been few, if any, major issues throughout human history -- religious, geographical, political, social -- that have been solved by any mechanism EXCEPT violence.

Fortunately, I was raised by the extended Giuliano family, which included many Old Country natives, so I, personally, was spared the New Age blather which permeates child-rearing practices today. I can still remember Grandpa reminding me that "That best way to deal with a bully is to work him over with a tire iron." Of course, he rendered this sentiment in raspy, badly-broken English, interspersed with curses in his native language, while vigorously leaping about, brandishing a rolled up magazine to demonstrate the prescribed course of action.

The point is, nobody in my family made a big deal about niceness. Sure, they acknowledged that there was a time and a place for niceness -- like in Church, or when Cousin Giuseppe was trying to take a nap -- but it was understood that a great many life situations call for decisive action, backed up when necessary by the threat or implementation of naked force.

Think about your own life. Is anybody shoving you around, making you miserable, treating you like an ineffectual little dweeb? Could the reason for this be that you ACT like an ineffectual little dweeb? Are you too nice for your own good?

Maybe you should try asserting yourself. Sure, shoving back is risky. You'll have to stop sucking up to your boss. People might not like you. You might develop a reputation as a pain in the ass.

The payoff is that people might stop ASSUMING that you'll meekly acquiesce to any imposition, or that you'll automatically respond to orders by doing as you're told. Eventually, the whole wide world might stop using you for a doormat. Wouldn't that be nice?