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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

Dare to Finish Last

Czech Children, Tres Bohemes, CCO
Czech Children, Tres Bohemes, CCO

Remember when your parents, teachers, scout leaders, and many others used to say, be nice

Now, I ask you, did you follow their instructions? Were they nice? What does "nice" mean? Oh, and don't forget that "nice guys finish last."

Is this true?

There are many different tribes, ethnicities, races, and beings on this planet. Depending on which timeline you consider, and if time means anything at all, humans have been here for a very long time. I don't think that we have nailed "nice" yet...

Let's begin by comprehending "nice" and paying attention to our own actions, reactions, or inactions. Are you nice? Or are you perpetuating the aggressive animal instincts necessary to survive from the flight or fight days? Are we there now? Or are we only digging around the roots of niceness, not inhabiting it, or really getting it at all? Have we fallen for the outdated idea that niceness equals weakness? Think again. Better yet, get out of your head and lighten up.

I was inspired to examine our ways of treating each other when I witnessed the actions of someone who I thought was "nice." Until now, I would never have expected this person to behave this way. 

It was shocking until I went deeper and realized that we, as a species and as tribes and individuals, are grappling with this so-called niceness on an ancestral, cultural, and historical level. It is an ancient problem yet to be acknowledged.

We just think that we are nice. Perhaps we aren't nice at all, and we're either proud of it or completely unaware. I'll be the first one to remind you to tap into your inner-bitch when necessary. Why? For self-advocacy? Just because we can? 

Pay attention to your responses and reactions to others, and notice whether or not you really are nice. Or is it a myth created by you? 

What opened my eyes wide was my angry response when I became aware of this person's behavior. I went from thinking nice thoughts in general to, "Off with her head!" I will admit that it is from actions directed towards one of my offspring, which can catapult most mothers into the mamma bear mode. Did you ever see their claws?

I am grateful for this jolt, this thrusting into the world of realization by way of my own response. Does it help to fight fire with fire? Or is it more helpful to look closer at the possible problem at hand? Do we always need allies, bonds, and co-warriors when we decide to do battle? How about if someone chooses not to battle, but to unplug and walk away. Then, do we lend a hand in either stepping back and owning what is ours? Or do we encourage them to fight? There is always mediation, which is only effective when we are not wearing boxing gloves.

I am not suggesting that we always cave in, but notice how we respond to others not only as an individual but on behalf of others. My approach has always been to maintain a positive or neutral stance when disagreeing or negotiating. As a mother and teacher, I practice peaceful—non-violent conflict resolution.

Violence and anger come in many forms. I became aware of my recent anger when my response was so emotionally charged. This begged me to dig deeper. I released my rage towards this individual. Like mugwort spreading abundantly throughout the land, it was about to take over. By the way, I love mugwort. I used to curse it, but I now comprehend its medicinal and psychotropic value. It invites us to dream.

If we are to rise up, to make our way through this shift and changing times, it is vital to look long and hard at ourselves. From battling ants to one country invading another, war comes on various levels. It wears disguises and can actually be fueled by you.

Do have a backbone when it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones. However, take note of how you respond. With so much divisiveness and upheaval, we stand our ground even when we don't need too. Everyone is ready for a fight. It is time to revisit this very, very old way of being. It is time to step into our niceness. Don't think for a second that this means that you are weak or caving in. No. You can be a strong force within yourself, family, and community without raising an angry fist. Step into your potential. Dare to finish last. Evolve.


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