Can We All Just Be a Little Less Nice?
When World War II finished in 1945, three major political changes took place. The old great powers (otherwise known as sovereign states that knew how to fuck shit up globally, i.e. Germany) rapidly slumped into a demise of strength, and two superpowers began to emerge – the United States of America, and the Soviet Union.
This was the first time in history that two dominant political agendas had such global influence – and with essentially opposite agendas, they began to shape the world, as we know it. Bipolar.
That’s when the Cold War began.
And as America began to prosper, Russia slid back into a war-torn decline that reverted the nation to an almost primitive mindset. The battle between the two countries was being fought in a completely new way – not with guns and armies, but with espionage and spies. And perhaps the worst of it was, the battle not only raged outside of the country borders, but inside – no one was to be trusted, everyone was to be watched, and one small blunder could leave you feeling the wrath of the cold iron fist.
In America, the war was also present. But through propaganda and news tactics, the people’s distrust was predominately aimed towards the Russians – not towards the people within its walls.
At the same time, there was an unheard of amount of productivity in the USA. New products, ideas and technologies were cropping up in every direction – and with that, there came a need for the salesman.
Suddenly, everyone became salesman – convincing his or her peers that this new project or idea was the next big thing. Hell, even the government became salesmen, using the incredible feat of a moon landing as a way to pitch their success in the war, and mitigate people’s fears of the Russian power. (Please Note: that is not an insinuation that the moon landing did not happen.)
So. America was full of salesmen, and Russia was full of distrust. Let’s think about the social implications of this for a second.
Done? Okay. What’d you come up with?
If you came up with two polar societies, one propped up on the niceties of life – be polite, always smile, act friendly towards everyone (because you never know who you’re going to sell to); and one relying on the sole factor of trust – trust only those you know are trustworthy, don’t ever lie or fib, because then somebody might not trust you, keep your friends extremely close and stay as far away from your enemies as possible – then you would be correct.
And those two foundations, formed during the years of the Cold War, still shape our societies today.
But why would the western world be so intent on pushing an ideal that is the opposite of trust? To essentially say that being polite and keeping everybody happy is more valuable than being honest? Is that a society that sounds… like it’s on the right path?
Whereas Russia, the government aside, maintains a basis of complete honesty in its society. That honesty is often misconstrued for being cold-hearted. It’s why, if you say something stupid, a Russian (probably tall, skinny, pale, leggy, blonde and completely intimidating) will tell you point blank that what you said was stupid.
It’s not with malice, though. It’s probably not even meant to be a negative comment – just an honest statement. And your reaction is probably shock and a small amount of hurt, because you’re used to being coddled by everyone you talk to.
It’s why in places like America, people are so easily offended by a mundane statement.
Are we really that precious? Can we really not handle a little bit of honesty?
Here’s my task to you: go out there and say what you think. Try being honest for a day. See what happens. People might not like it – but I think that, over time, they’ll appreciate it. Because with trust, relationships become stronger.