…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Nicer Than I Seem

Smarter Than I Look

By Rex Goode


I proposed to Barbara after watching The Ten Commandments on Easter in 1977. I new I was planning to do it, but the scene where Moses proposed to Sephora really clinched it for me.

After we got married, we watched it again and another scene caught her attention. It’s the scene where Rameses is telling Nefretiri that he intends to marry her and how she is going to obey him. What fantasy world was he living in?

I admit that I’m opinionated. I admit that I believe myself to be right. I also admit that when I state my case, I try my best to do it as forcefully and as well-considered as I can. I’m aware that the result of that is that some people think of me as imperious.

The Ten Commandments starred Charlton Heston as Moses, Yvonne De Carlo as Sephora, Yul Brynner as Rameses, and Anne Baxter as Nefretiri.

In a recent email exchange, someone said that I sounded like I was saith, “Thus saith Rex.” I replied that it is only doctrine if I actually precede what I say with “Thus saith Rex.” To be honest, I’m pretty annoyed that people are so thin-skinned that they mistake someone who makes a strong argument for someone who isn’t a nice person.

Latter-day Pharoah

Latter-day Pharoah

I might have a little bit of a Pharoah in me, but I promise, I’m a lot nicer than I seem. In fact, I’m a social worker and I help families with adult, developmentally disabled children that are violent. I teach everyone how to be nicer and get along. I’m every bit as nice as I teach others to be, really.

It’s just that I define “nice” differently than others. I think that being nice means being truthful in the moment so that others don’t suffer later when they discover the truth. In the name of being nice, a lot of people will postpone telling the truth until a time when the truth hurts more and it can’t be hidden any longer. For me, if “nice” doesn’t look ahead to the consequences, it isn’t nice at all.

A common mistake is to mistake assertiveness for meanness. I think that passivity and aggression are equally not nice. I’m not mean. I’m assertive.

I’ve fallen for the same untruth about niceness, that it’s all about not expressing your opinion. I’m just like everyone else. I like it when people speak to me gently and coddle me by avoiding unpleasant facts. It feels good, but I also know by experience that when you discover later that you were being lied to, it feels awful.

One person I used to think of as not-so-nice was D. Michael Martindale, a filmmaker I got to know in cyberspace through the Association for Mormon Letters. Opinionated? Oh,yeah! Willing to state his opinions? Definitely! Intimidating for me? At first.

D. Michael Martindale is the director and writer of Geeks and Goblins, Elves and Elliot.

Once I paid closer attention, though, I realized that he is incredibly nice, just like me. And like me, when something is on his mind, he doesn’t mind saying it. I like it when anyone does that.

I’ve also discovered similar things about liberal people. I’m very conservative about most things political, which is a strange bedfellow with being a social worker. Most liberal people I know are very shrill about their political opinions, and not very nice about it.

I went to college later in life and was surprised that, even though I attended a very conservative Lutheran college, Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, most of my professors were mildly to heavily liberal in their politics. It scared me a little at first, because most of my experience with people of a liberal bent was that they were paradoxically narrow-minded if you weren’t liberal too. Despite that, I got some of my best grades from liberal professors with whom I disagreed about of things philosophical. Well, with a 3.89 GPA, I didn’t get many bad grades.

Sonja Vegdahl and Me

Sonja Vegdahl and Me After I Received Outstanding Social Work Student of the Year (2007)

Sometimes people are not only surprised at how nice I am under my gruff exterior, but that I’m also no dolt. When someone expresses that surprise, I respond by saying, “I’m a lot smarter than I look.” My sister-in-law, Donna, once remarked, “You’d just about have to be.” Thanks, sis.

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One Response to “Nicer Than I Seem”

  1. Springs Of Water » Hungry for Heaven said:

    […] OK, most people tell me I come across as thinking that I know everything. I’m not only nicer than I seem, I’m also a lot more open-minded than I […]

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