The golden rule

Bailey Zaputil

Torch News editor Bailey Zaputil

There’s a quote that’s stuck with me through out the years: being nice to people you don’t like isn’t being two-faced, it’s being grown-up. Everyday, this has become more and more relevant in my life. Especially now that I’m in my second year of high school, where the secrets of my classmates’ lives become more scandalous every week. The kids you used to try to snort pixie sticks now snort cocaine, the girl that always complained about not having enough clothes all the sudden doesn’t have enough, and the nerdy boy that sat in the corner in the sixth grade is all the sudden inexplicably hot.They’ve changed. And then again, so have you.

Childhood was nice because everyone was up front about everything. You knew when someone was mad at you, and why. It was also for a lot simpler reasons like stealing crayons and not boyfriends. You’d probably cry and scream and tell a teacher, but in the end, things resolved themselves. Obviously you can’t cry and scream as an adult, even though it’s a tempting option. The option for a confrontation with the person whom you dislike is still open, but now it all depends on certain things, because calling so-and-so this will make some other so-and-so mad, and also you can’t break off your relationship with them because you’ve both have been friends for so long, or more likely they know all your sex secrets and you can not let ANYONE know what you did with your last boyfriend. So what do you do? You gossip even more to vent out your frustration and anger, of course. You start telling her friends things about her that you shouldn’t, and soon the entire relationship is just a breeding ground of bad feelings and resentment. This is where the being nice to people you don’t like – or people where the relationship has fallen through, and the affection is gone, or just plain being nice to strangers – comes in.

Being nice to people isn’t a law, but a social expectation. We all have our days, but that doesn’t mean we can be jerks to everyone because we’re upset, because it’s not their fault. I’ve lashed out on people I didn’t know before when I was upset, because they were there, and because I figured I would never see them again, but you know what? I did. And I felt horrible about it later because it was only when I wasn’t upset that I realized what a jerk I was and how they did not deserve what I had done. And these are things people don’t forget, because they’ve seen you at your worst already, and they’ve never experienced you yet at your best.

So my suggestion for when you’re angry and upset at close friends, at the world, at the old lady who keeps letting her dog poop in your yard? Just drop it. Actually, just don’t drop it, drop it like a hot potato. Let it cool off. You see, if you keep fanning the flames of these things, soon you’ll lose control, and everything will set itself on fire. Of course, if you see this person frequently it might be awkward, but it’s better than the I’m-sorry-I-tried-to-stab-you-last-week awkward that might have resulted if you had kept on spreading rumours about them and punching clerks at random Casey’s. At this point with your friend, you’ll both probably know what the other has said about them. And so there is no better time to just leave at that: accept that you’ve both messed up, and if you want to salvage anything of the relationship, grow up. You don’t even have to be friends again. But creating an enemy, in the long run, is more trouble than it’s worth. Because the more you feud, the more you get stuck with this person in class, in detention, and in more drama.

This is lesson of friendship is one that cumulates into an even wider one: you are going to need to learn how to work with people you dislike, no matter how much you dislike them, and you are going to have to put on your best attitude every day with them just to get the job done. In any sports team/club/work office/mob circle adequate chemistry is everything. And while you might not be best friends with everyone there, you can always do your best to be kind and respectful to everyone there. Except for Steve, that guy’s a scumbag.
Things start to get messy when people start to gossip. This is because you are probably in a small clique/social circle, so they are eventually going to know what you said about them, and vice versa. And since this isn’t childhood, and people are jittery critters with confrontation, people start acting up. Athletes stop sending the ball towards their teammates, news-writers start turning papers into their editors late (or you know, never), and people stop pulling their weight in group projects that will cost the group the whole grade. This is because they are so MAD and hurt at what someone in that group has said. What they’re actually doing is not just messing up their job, but everyone else’s in the group, too. And that is unforgivably selfish.
So be nice. To everyone. Be nice to your friends and acquaintances even if they are making you mad or annoying you, and if they’re really worth it, you know you can talk to them. We all gossip, but be wary of nosy ears, and wary of who you are telling your secrets to. Be nice to strangers, because they’ve never done anything to deserve your wrath. And most importantly, be nice to people you don’t like: this will be your true test of character, your true test of maturity.
Except for Steve and that old lady who keeps letting her dog poop in your ward. Her, you tell her to knock that off.