The first grader was almost ready to leave her mother at the door. Her mother sensed the apprehension, assuring her daughter that she would have fun with new friends. Emily always liked learning new things. Her teacher would make learning exciting. Then came the final kiss and leaving Emily. Almost as an afterthought, Mother added just two more words: Be nice! In retrospect, Emily admitted that this bit of advice saw her through all her school years. It was the Golden Rule packed into two words. It didn’t allow picking on kids or making fun of others or getting into trouble on the playground. This mini-slogan was a reminder not to be catty as a teenager or competitively mean in sports. “Be nice” invited inclusive friendship clusters. It gave room to a new person at table. Today’s abbreviated messages have the power to be brief with good intent. It may carry one forward with a wisdom that forms character.
by Ruth Feeney, OSB