It is so difficult to be nice…

A true incident about a decade ago triggered the above…

First month in the Catholic Church we had picked out, a retired schoolteacher cornered, berated  and disparaged me. It was especially shocking as, for the life of me, I didn’t know her. I subsequently learned that she had been a colleague of my older brother, also a schoolteacher, and the two have had issues. It was also interesting that this woman was a catechist, someone who teaches the Bible to children.

I touched her shoulder and said words to this effect, “You’re hurting and I’ll pray for you.”

A crowd had gathered by then and my wife, Lisa, gently led me away. Throughout that week, a thousand thoughts and emotions wrecked me.

My prospective godfather (Lisa and I had decided to embrace the Catholic faith and were journeying) suggested that I stay away from the woman. I made clear that, well-meaning though he might have been, perhaps he was mistaken.

Instead of avoiding her, I sought her out and wished upon her my “Peace”. I did that every Sunday I attended church and must admit that it was not at all easy. Especially back then, I managed people in 24 countries, was known as an “aggressive businessman” and did not suffer fools.

Her reactions ranged from cringing away, to glares and then to stiff smiles. Three months later, she broke down, hugged me and apologized. Now, she seeks me out for a hug.

I had turned the other cheek and felt HIS kiss.

Thank you for helping me to be nice 🙂



  1. Dear Eric,

    I went around your blog – read your words!
    They’re not only inspiring but something that touches the cord and makes you think.

    Liked to have found you here.


  2. This is a great message Eric, one which should be shared. it confirms what I get from all your posts and commentary. Your empathy and “niceness” sings in every line which is one of the reasons, in addition to your excellent writing, which keeps me coming back.

    1. He was great teacher, Jane, that old fellow in Jakarta.

      He brought me down a few notches and prepared me for when I lost my business and had to literally get into the trenches.

      I share this with all who lend me their ears. My children are fully aware of what their Daddy has done and is even now prepared to do. By the Grace of God, I think it is rubbing off on them.

      Peace and luv,

  3. Eric, one of the things which I like about your blog (in addtion to your writing) is your “nice” personality which glows through every posting. You have the gift of empathy which I, and I am sure many others enjoy.

    1. Jane dear,

      Your words touch me so.

      I come across some blogs full of dark distraught – people burdened by unhappy childhoods, unshakeable illnesses, broken marriages, lost loved ones, or clinging guilt and anger.

      Better the clown who spreads laughter and joy, I reckon – or perhaps a kind thought or two that provides a fleeting respite – not too much to expect or to give.

      After all, it is His to give. We are mere conduits.

      Luv and hugz, Eric

    1. Padmini,

      Thank you for your visit and kind words.

      Many ask for wealth and power, ignoring these are cuffs that prevent us from reaching out.

      Just for the record, I was managing director of a European MNC and don’t suffer fools or frivolous people.

      But you see how high God brought me, and then made me go down. A long difficult journey that I did not relish. Frankly, I am unimpressed by the values and behaviour of many in the corporate world and public office.

      I rather be a “human doing” than a “human being” – that is my challenge which I confront everyday, and even now. And perhaps a challenge for many too. How else does one live our Faith, if not by living it – I wonder.

      Peace, Eric

      1. Padmini,

        Many would find such a take down, insurmountable, I agree.

        In my case, I attained corporate recognition and business success but have also worked as a hawker and a construction labourer (side-by-side with Indian and Bangladeshi workers) during the mid-1990s before I landed a job as MD – yes, from labourer to MD.

        I don’t mean to bore you but you might want to see who taught me, the Shrewd Businessman > – some lessons for our children, perhaps.

        Peace, Eric

      2. can only say that you have seen many things in life. well, I don’t have children yet..I need to learn a lot of things (or lessons) too..

  4. A couple of years ago I decided that my New Year’s Resolution had to be something more meaningful. I decided that my resolution for the year was to smile more. I made a decision to smile and engage with people more – strangers passing me in the park, the girl at the check out. I was surprised by how many people would walk past me and not exchange a smile however what was more significant was how many people did respond. It was lovely and I’ve kept this resolution running into 2012. I like the words you’ve chosen for this post Eric.

    1. That is lovely. It enriches us so much, it is a wonder that more people don’t bring their smiles along…Now, your compliments put a smile on my face 🙂

    1. Congratulations, Ann.
      This is an appropriate recognition for all your heartfelt efforts. Well done 🙂

      You humble me with this award. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to pass it forward to deserving bloggers out there…we all need these shots to pick us up and keep going, in life as in blogging.

      All good wishes,
      Eric 🙂

  5. Liked your poem and writing. It certainly is challenging to be nice to those who are not so nice to us. But I guess it says something about that in the Bible to the affect of: “Who are you to only love those you love. The greater challenge is to love your enemies.” And a great challenge that is. You certainly were up for it here in this story. Thanks for sharing it. Glad you got your well deserved and earned apology, too. Things don’t always work out that way. Take care. Sincerely, Connie PS Survived some bad Catholic experiences, too!

    1. Dear Connie,
      Thank you for your visit and comment.
      Most Catholics are nice people but some (especially the ones who spew plenty about God’s love) are lost…and I reckon so too are some priests.
      Peace, Eric

  6. That is not at all an easy thing to do. It is good… it is correct, but it isn’t easy. Then again, I suppose few worthwhile things are particularly easy.

      1. In a way it is a lesson for all of us. I mean that both in the sense of one I need to learn, and also of one we gain from your sharing the poem and story. So I should thank you.

  7. Wow, what an amazing story to go along with this! it makes the little poem so much better to know the inspiration! What a beautifully inspiring story! Sigh, i must try to be more like you. i truly must.

    1. Thank you for uplifting me with your words.
      “…try to be more like you…” Hmmm…what a wonderful compliment.
      I reckon you are already abundantly beautiful in HIS eyes.
      Peace, Eric

    1. I am very pleased that the timing of this post has worked for you. I believe that we are never alone…how can we, when we have the Omnipresent One. Peace upon your days, Eric

  8. Eric, bless you for ending this post on why we should be nice with these words:
    “I had turned the other cheek and felt HIS kiss.”
    We reward ourselves and lighten our own spirits and leave the gate open for others to come back to us when we are “nice.”

    1. Hello and you’re very welcome, Frank.
      God’s work is the easiest, I reckon. Not that it is ‘easy’ but because there are so many opportunities and most do not cost money or time.
      Peace, Eric

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this, Eric. I loved this post a lot.
    There are many people who can learn something from this.
    Thank you again!

    ~ Sirenia ~

  10. Eric you are lovely and this post shows loud and clear how compassionate you are….we are not in control of another soul’s behaviour but we can choose our reaction to it. It takes strength and calmness to rise above our own hurt emotions when our natural instinct is to run/hide/protect ourselves or in some cases lash out. Thank you for sharing this – love Jane x

    1. Dear Jane,
      You touch me with your sweet words. No matter how busy you are with your dailies, you take the time to stop by, read and post comments. I am blessed to have found buddies like you,
      Luv and hugz
      P/s If you ever get to Syria, give Aslan a great big hug from me.

  11. Hello dear Eric

    I know, from experience and even without this post, what a nice person you are. But what you did here, few of us, especially in the west, would do. I always wish I would be a nice person too, but I see now that it will take a lot more practice. As for so many things there doesn’t seem to be an easy way.

    1. My dear Steph,
      Good morning and what lovely words. You spoil me through and through 🙂
      I try to instill in my children that they should strive to be really free. That includes not letting another’s anger or bitterness influence their words and actions. Having said that, I thought it was pretty good advice for me too!
      Luv and hugz,

  12. Takes alot to transform bitterness. Or does it really? We only need a little perspective shift. Thanks for the reminder. Beautiful post. “i had turned the other cheek and felt HIS kiss”. 🙂

    1. Quite often the greatest obstacle to overcoming another’s bitterness is our sense of righteousness and pride – I reckon.
      That episode also taught me humility and I struggle everyday to practise it – yes, I need to practise, as it is quite unnatural for most including me.
      All good wishes, Eric

  13. I had a somewhat similar experience – I confronted my superior who had bad mouthed a couple, almost ruining that couple’s relationship. My superior (a woman) became furious and defensive. I did not try to be nice but I wanted to be cheeky and sought her out everytime. After 2 months, she gave up avoiding me and we got back on civil terms again just before I left the company. Whatever the motive, as long as we feel right for being nice, then it must be correct.

  14. What a wonderful post, Eric! It takes a special, sensitive person to return bitterness with kindness. The kind of person I believe we are called upon to be. (I need to work on this).

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