Stop regarding man, of what account is he?
“I can't speak out. It wouldn't be nice." Or, "I can't argue. They're the authority. That's not done. Plus, it's not nice."
Ever heard that? Or said it? I have.
Why are we obsessed with being nice?
Does anyone remember Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego?
Their story is in the book of Daniel.
They're the guys the king threw into the furnace for insubordination.
Remember? They wouldn't bow the knee to Nebuchadnezzar's idol.
Remember? Moments before their inevitable death, they told the king they didn't need to answer him about this matter.
And, they told the king that their God was able to deliver them. But, even if He didn't, they still wouldn't worship Nebuchadnezzar's false gods.
Was that nice of Rack, Shack, and Benny? To tell the king off?
Was it nice when Queen Esther approached her husband, the king, to ask him to dinner?
It had been six months since he called for her.
Approaching him risked certain death.
But her situation was dire. Her people were set to be slaughtered.
What else could she do? Do you remember her words? "If I perish, I perish!"
And then, she dramatically opened the doors to the throne room.
Remember that moment when as children, we read that story?
And we wondered what would happen?
This same king tossed his last wife for insubordination.
Would he welcome his new, blushing bride?
Or would he kill her?
It wasn't pleasant.
It wasn't nice of Moses to barge in and confront Egypt's king.
Remember that he spent years in the desert after he killed a guy.
And then he ran.
And now, he's back.
Demanding release for his people.
None of that was pleasant.
I could go on.
Instead, I'll ask, why are we so concerned with that concept?
Of being nice?
What does that even mean?
Does it mean that they could not possibly do anything wrong because someone's nice?
Or that because someone is nice AND in a leadership position, they WOULD never do anything wrong?
Too often, being nice holds us back.
It closes our mouths.
Honestly, being nice often means I'm concerned with what someone thinks. And I've made the whole thing about me.
About pleasing others and keeping them happy.
Too often, being nice or being seen as pleasant keeps us from saying what needs to be said.
It keeps us from speaking the truth.
Truth, which is always kind.
But not always nice.
Am I wrong?
Isn't kindness built on love?
And isn't love built on truth?
So why the narrative?
That we must be nice.
That we should be nice.
God's word is filled with people who weren't friendly.
But they were courageous.
They were willing to speak up and often risked their lives.
Because they knew their foundation was the TRUTH himself.
We stand on the shoulders of giants who did unbelievably brave things.
Like Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. Or Esther. Or Moses.
Or John Knox. Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Do you think they told each other to be nice in the crucible?
Or did they remind each other to stand firm?
And to continue to speak the truth? Come what may?
Consider Jesus in Matthew's gospel.
Matthew 15:14 “Let them alone. They are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
Jesus says that the Pharisees are leading their people down a not-so-great path. Or in other words, Jesus' disciples came to him and said, "Y'know, you're kind of offending the Pharisees." And Jesus is like, "Who cares?"
The Pharisees WERE the DUDES back in the day. They were the “unquestionable” ones.
The chief priests of the expert class.
And Jesus said, so what?
And I say, so what?
Our authority is Christ.
We do not give our blind allegiance to the powers that be. Ever.
No matter how nice they appear.
Nor should we offer blind allegiance to each other.
Instead, our allegiance is to the truth.
Which is not always nice.
But, it is always kind.
“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth" ― Albert Einstein
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].