Usually, at night’s end, one of my favorite places to browse before logging off the Internet is the Newsgroups/soc.singles site. For those unfamiliar with it, the Newsgroups are a collection of places on the Net where people can post/respond to various topics on what amounts to a very large, 24-hour, global bulletin board. Imagine a coffeehouse where everyone from scholared Ph.D.s to street-wise ruffians argue out issues of the sexes in non-stop debate. It’s got everything but the necessity to dodge coffee-cups and spontaneous brawls. Never a dull moment.
Although any topic is fair game there are a few debates that seem to go on ad infinitum and have reached fever-pitch between opponents to the degree that some articulate, well-structured adjectives concerning the opposing view’s family members often meet with words containing only four words or less.. and those often-times misspelled. Whether due to the furor and passion of the moment, poor typing skills or skipping out on one too many English classes I do not know. Of the many issues often raised is that of “Nice Guys”.
In the other Newsgroup section, alt.personals, you will often see postings with someone referring to themselves as a ‘nice guy’. This world being what it is, some men have described themselves as such even though they were anything but a nice guy. That’s the kind of thing “not-nice-guys” do. So meanwhile, back in the soc.singles section, women complain of being misled, nice-guys complain of being misrepresented, not-nice-guys tell them “..nice-guys finish last”, and the rest of us try to make sense of it all. Following all that initial chaos comes the “whining/reproof” phases amongst the men in the soc.men newsgroups with cross-postings (also known as ‘spamming’) to any other newsgroup even remotely involved.
Invariably some burnt out, disillusioned ‘nice-guy’ will scream out the conclusion, “Women say they want a nice-guy and then they treat him like crap when they find him.” Or one of my favorites, “Being a nice guy just means you’ve already got one foot in the LJBF (let’s just be friends) grave.” This is the ‘whining’ phase. Followed inevitably by the ‘reproof’ stage. To which the following comments have appeared, “Being a nice-guy, whatever that is, doesn’t mean women owe it to you to fall in love with you. Get over it and on with it.” Or, “If you can’t appreciate the honesty it takes for someone to offer you their friendship and accept it for that, maybe you’re not as ‘nice’ as you think you are.”
No dilly-dallying in the newsgroups. Gloves are always off and the place never seems to shut down. Amazing what anonymity will bring out of people. After reading the postings for the last eight months or so, hearing one horror story after another followed by one reproof after another it seemed obvious to me that there’s something about this ‘nice-guy’ definition that seems to remain largely misunderstood. The points made above only touch on the tip of the ice-berg. The more I thought about this link between abused ‘nice-guys’ who seem to have tried their best yet find themselves licking bitter wounds, the more I began to see two things stand out above all other variables. Kindness and its relationship to Leadership. What follows will soon appear in the newsgroups “soc.singles/soc.men/soc.women” and is not for the squeamish of heart. But if you feel ready to look at these two issues stripped to their raw elements, then read on.
First let’s take a look at this creature known as the ‘nice guy’. Ask 100 men to define it and you’ll get about 100 varying definitions. Some feel they qualify simply because they have no criminal record. Others because they have their own set of ethics, however warped. (‘The ends justify the means’ line of reasoning.) Some feel they qualify because they strictly do not expect sex until the fourth date, whereas only a barbarian would make a move any sooner. (Imagine that.) So many sliding scales of rules and exceptions, enough to make even a tax auditor’s mind scream from the madness. But what is it that often gets left out of too many definitions, especially among those bitter from being trampled by unrequited love/lust? Straightforwardly, it is… Kindness.
“Treat others as you would have them treat you.” The Golden Rule. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “A man never begins to know the depth of his own evil until he first aspires to be good.” Ask any man, or any of these ‘nice men’ for that matter, whether they should receive respect, patience, understanding, considerateness or whatever suits the occasion when dealing with the opposite sex and you will hear a resounding, “Yes! If only it were so more often!!” Yet in the very next breath they betray their unwillingness to extend such virtues when thier extended love is not accepted and a friendship is kindly offered in return. Being a ‘nice guy’ in all trueness, or as much as it’s possible for us flawed humans, does not come with a key to the city whereupon one can make demands simply for virtue’s sake alone. Being a ‘nice guy’ simply should identify one’s lifestyle to practice that which we hope to find scarcely in mankind… Kindness. The willingness to respect and treat others with the same measure we hope for ourselves. I say ‘hope’, for true virtue will extend these kindnesses even to those who fail to give them in return.
The second element often either overlooked or misunderstood is that of Leadership among men in particular. Somewhere in the neutering redefinement of male role-modeling the issue of leadership has come to be greatly misunderstood. Some believe being a leader is a position allocated to a few men with the obligation of all others to simply follow. (This is a definition that applies more to ‘Authority’, which we will not delve into at this time.) The greatest error is made in observing the abusive pride and arrogance that many ‘unkind’ men use to prop up their shaky stance of leadership, through fear and intimidation, and the resulting association implied is… “Arrogant men often become leaders, therefore leading is not meant for nice-guys. Therefore, avoid it whenever possible so as to remain a ‘nice-guy’.”
I wondered for the longest time why it was that good, sensible, intelligent women would walk away from a ‘nice guy’ to rush into the arms of a gang-member, rogue or scoundrel. I wondered what it was that caused someone in history to say with resounding clarity, “The only thing necessary for evil men to succeed is that good men do nothing.” I pondered the cutting, base observation that, “Power is its own aphrodisiac.” And summing it all up I was once again drawn to the words of C.S. Lewis who observed that while many women have fought for control over their husbands, it was upon winning claim to leadership over their man that marked the day they began to despise him for letting it happen. It is true that leadership requires courage and courage is a very attractive quality for a man to have in the eyes of a woman. But search among those who abuse leadership… the arrogant, the gang-member, the wife-abuser, the quick-tempered, the violent, the insensitive, the demanding.. and you will find that in place of courage they have substituted nothing more than bold Selfishness. This being the very opposite of Love coincidentally.
Yet there is one thing for which I cannot withhold credit from such violent, demanding men.. they Lead. They may lead an army to destruction, they may lead a business profit at the sacrifice of humanity, they may lead a gang of ruffians to the top of a drug cartel, they may lead their family in fear to certain unhappiness, they may lead the woman who loves them to repeated heartache… but they lead. Again it is sad to say that, “The only thing necessary for evil men to succeed is that good men do nothing.” Any selfish-hearted windbag can stand up and demand this or that with no more than a bellow of hot air and the threat of his exaggerated might. But who amongst all other men, will use the true elements of Leadership… Courage and Kindness?
Courage comes from facing what we fear within, not necessarily what we face outwardly. Being kind has been misunderstood as synonymous with being weak, effeminate, or unmanly. It has been assumed that to be direct or unmoving is unkind. Faced with the issue of speaking for what is right, faced with the situation of being forgiving when one’s heart has been broken, faced with being honest rather than offering what is what is expected to get this or that result from someone… it is the weak, cowardly man who resorts to intimidation and selfishness rather than find the courage and character to extend love that faces the odds at risk to his own heart or stature.
Leadership without kindness is selfish and hollow. Yet for lack of real leadership in whatever scope each man is given, others will settle for selfish and hollow substitutes. Meanwhile, kindness without the courage to lead in whatever scope laid before us is about as admirable as the wealthy man who -intends- to give food to the hungry, but fears the ridicule of others too much to do so. Leading does not mean ordering people around. It does not mean being in charge of a nation, a company, part of a company or even having dominion over a person. Leading simply states, “This is where I am going. These are the things I believe.” Strong, healthy leadership adds to this, “In the process I will strive to treat you according to the Golden Rule, but out of my love for you and your character, I’ll encourage and expect as much from you.” Some people fear changing for the better. Some people are too unfamiliar with goodness to know how to react to it. A leader does his best to extend it, show the way and leave that decision to those who wish to follow his example.
The trouble with leading? Not everyone will follow. That doesn’t matter to bad leaders, it shouldn’t matter to you. But sooner or later I believe each man has to ask himself, “Of what good are my beliefs concerning love, respect, kindness.. if I never make a stand to defend and lead in such areas?” Unkind men, or shall I say… not-nice-guys, are willing to make a noise and live by their creeds of selfishness and callousness even at great cost to themselves. And though no one observing can really endorse their foolishness, they quietly compliment the arrogance it takes to do so.
If insecure, ill-tempered, irrational violent men are willing to defend and exercise their rights to a dunghill of ideals at the expense of others… the question begs to be asked… “Who among you ‘nice-guys’ has the courage to lead daily.. showing your part of the world what real kindness, giving love, patient, sincere forgiveness, honest relationships, forbearance and so many Golden truths with the same vehemence and passion?!” Leaders end up being noticed, and so do their mistakes. Leaders have no shortage of harsh critics. No one faults an unfair man for a moment of kindness. But as a true, bona-fide, trying-your-damnedest-to-be-a Nice Guy.. as soon as you screw up it’ll fly back in your face faster than you can say, “Uh-oh.” And you will fail. That much is unavoidable. And therein lies the fear. But when you want it bad enough, when you’re ready to begin leading… you lead as best you can against the odds, whether anyone follows or not, and surely whether or not some woman decides to give you her heart or not. And when you’re done wiping the mud off your face you get back up again and continue on your course. And day by day you make it known, “This is where I’m going.” And you lead.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.