Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Social Self-Defense:

“You don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed; even the dullest bulb can be nice.”

My mother had a way with words, and she was filled with old school wisdom. Raised by her grandparents who were actual abolitionists, my mother’s life was infused with the philosophy of Quakers, the respect for nature and matrilineal ways of The Lenape, and the civility of Old English society.

She was a walking ball of confusion; a hard working alcoholic single mother turned senior advocate/activist and confidence whisperer, my mother was the very definition of transformation. 

Although her life was full of ups and downs, one thing remained constant, she knew how to conduct herself in public.

“Good manners will take you around the globe and kindness will open hearts,” she said.

Our current culture does not fully respect and embrace the kind of heart. We do no build monuments or produce reality shows for those who are simply nice.

In fact, the opposite is true. We speak ill of those we deem as “too nice.” Declaring them unfit for leadership of any kind.

I still believe that kindness is the best path.

While studying Spanish, I learned the word simpatico. I love the sound of it and try to use it as often as possible. There’s only one problem; the English language doesn’t really have a true equivalent for simpatico.

“It means nice, but so much more,” one Spanish teacher said. A person who is described as simpatico, is one who is easy to get along with. They possess a likeability and a keen sense of understanding.

The second perimeter of defense for the self is to be simpatico.

A polite word or smile to a stranger can defuse a dangerous situation. More importantly though, simpatico commands respect and alters the energy.

President Obama possesses simpatico. I’ve been in his presence. He acknowledges dignitaries and gives deference to janitors and cooks. I suspect that even before he was the POTIS, he commanded attention.

Simpatico is defensive and offensive. It puts folks on guard and at ease. It becomes the teacher and the student.

I have a cousin who is mentally challenged. He is one of the kindest people I know. When he enters the room of family gatherings, everyone stops their conversation to acknowledge him. 

This is not because he has special needs, but because he makes all of us feel special.
Simpatico is difficult to define, but easily recognized.

Who would you describe as simpatico?

How can you be, well---nicer?

Today, put up your guard by letting it down.

Be you, be well, be simpatico.
Bertie Berry, PhD.


  1. Bertice - you're still kick-ass brilliant! So glad to have found your blog!
    All love...Linda

  2. SIMPATICO! Loving this word...been thinking about it every since you described what it means...thanks! It's a word I so needed to learn and start doing. I started yesterday...I spoke first :-). Shel Bee :-D

  3. A great reminder to allow the Simpatico in us to shine. Thank you once again Dr Berry! ๐Ÿ™