The Movement of Nice

Today is one of those days where everything is pissing me off. I saw a ‘cute bulldog moments’ video on Facebook and part of the video involved an owner calling their bulldog down a grassy slope, only to laugh when the bulldog fell over and slid the rest of the way because its legs were too short to carry it. I quipped on how sadistic that seemed, disabling a dog through breeding and then commanding it to do something you know it can’t but will try anyway through sheer canine loyalty, then laughing when it inevitably fails. I got upset that bad breeding (and the score of health issues that comes along with) promotes more bad breeding because it’s too easy to think ‘it has a cute stubby nose and I want it’ and too depressing to think ‘it has a cute stubby nose but that means it can’t breathe very well’.

Then I saw a video filmed locally (Cape Town, yesterday) of a man being ‘escorted’ to a police van by a group of police, where he was stripped naked, kicked in the balls, beaten and humiliated in front of a small crowd of public onlookers. Someone was brave enough to step forward and asked the police why the man was being treated so brutally, and he found himself arrested for obstructing justice. Another woman shouted down from her office window about human rights and police brutality and she soon found the police visiting her workplace.

The video is here. Caution, it’s disturbing.

A few days back a gang of cyclists attacked a man double-parked in a stationary vehicle for apparently no reason at all – the vehicle was stationary, had been double parked at the side of the road when the cyclists arrived so it’s not like he stopped suddenly in front of them – the cyclists just got mad. They got off their bikes, leaned in through the vehicle window, sprayed the driver with pepper-spray, punched him, hit him with their bikes. Someone in a passing car recorded the whole thing. Some of the cyclists have been caught and arrested.

You read stories about violence often. You read about police brutality or about some random person being the victim of assault. You become desensitized; your brain stops forming the images from the words because eventually they just get too horrible to be exposed to so often. It takes seeing a video of it actually happening for you to be reminded of how shocking it is.

And then it’s despair time. Faith in humanity abandoned. It’s just so horrible to live in a world where people pay so little consideration for what is right and just and honourable; where people disregard, or even forget, what’s good and let themselves be swayed by what’s bad, to become complacent in the face of ugliness.

What can I do? I’m not a superhero, I’m just one small person. Even as a group our voices are seldom heard; we can march on police court-houses demanding justice and policy change and justice and more justice and it seldom ever comes. But maybe while we wait we can make our own little microcosms, the little universes we each inhabit, nicer places. We can do good deeds and spread good will and maybe through example and direct influence we can initiate change.

Go buy/make lunch for a homeless person. Make something and give it to someone for free. Do something that, aside from the warm fuzzies you’ll get from doing it, is totally selfless. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Drop in to your local nursing home and read to someone. Paint a picture and give it away. Take some old furniture to a housing project. Just do something nice, because I’m fed up of hearing bad stuff. Oh, and tell all your friends to do nice things too. Let’s start the Movement of Nice. 🙂

  • Pstonie

    Dang, first comment? Posted 5 hours ago? That was about the time I was reminded of your site.

    Nice is a dangerous weapon, and we have to be very careful of its use. In many cases of what is accepted in the mainstream as “good deeds”, people are actually contributing to the problems of this world. A good example is food aid, a double whammy for the scum of the earth. Not only do they get to write off their involvement as a tax exemption, but trucking free food to third world countries tends to collapse the existing local agricultural sector by destroying local food prices (supply and demand). This makes the farmland much cheaper and the aforementioned scum can buy it up at rock-bottom prices.

    That being said, I totally agree with you that the answer is to get personally involved. By that I don’t mean to donate money to whatever is the “in” cause advertised on teevee this week, because most of the time that money goes straight to the worst people on this planet. Just as people tend to underestimate the extent of evil that exists on this planet, they underestimate the power that a single person has. You don’t have to be famous or come up with a viral campaign to make a difference. All you have to do is to LIVE IT, and the change radiates outward from your life. Everything is connected, and that’s not some description of the mystical, it’s a physical fact.

    “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for the rest of his life.”