What Can We Do To Make Goodness Attractive Again?

This article is a “stream of consciousness” triggered by today’s Washington Times Commentary section, which had an article entitled “Galvanized by Contempt” by Newt Gingrich.  Its focus was the recent spate of attacks on certain people in the Administration, while at restaurants, and even outside their homes.   In recent years, we have seen increasing numbers of violent protests all over this country – mostly over politicians and politics, or politically charged issues.

What are we doing to ourselves – and why?

I am an American by choice.  In other words, I am an immigrant.   I grew up in England, but I had relatives who traveled here, and who brought back all kinds of good stuff, including candy, bubblegum and Sunday comics, and we had American neighbors, who were friendly, kind and far more generous than our British ones.  By the time I was seven, I had set my sights on coming to the US, and by the time I was 23, I had done it.  I told everyone that I was coming to seek my fame and fortune.

I was in love with the whole idea of the US.  The sun shone brighter, the people were nicer, and there was more of everything good and wonderful.  And it wasn’t a fantasy.  It was true.   I had read about the country’s founding, the revolution, the courage of the founders and the Federalist Papers that described their concerns about, and desire for a Constitution.  All those things thrilled me – especially the idea that a nation could be “designed” by imagination and thought.

I love the United States and, for me, the sun still shines brighter, people are nicer, and the natural beauty of the country is breath-taking.   I walk a lot around the area in which I live, and in neighboring towns and villages (close to DC, not a rural area) and I find that hardly a block goes by without someone smiling, saying “Hi!” or commenting on the weather.

So… fast forward to today.  I love the United States and, for me, the sun still shines brighter, people are nicer, and the natural beauty of the country is breath-taking.   I walk a lot around the area in which I live, and in neighboring towns and villages (close to DC, not a rural area) and I find that hardly a block goes by without someone smiling, saying “Hi!” or commenting on the weather.  These friendly neighbors and delivery-men are from all races and walks of life.  I don’t watch television – I got turned off by all the negativity and ads.  I do read a couple of different newspapers, where I can choose what I read, and don’t have the news or commentary thrust upon me.   I attend meetings with colleagues, and there I become exposed to some negative comments about politicians or the economy or allies and adversaries, but generally, we get on with whatever projects we are working on.

So what has happened and is still happening around us that is causing the viciousness out there?  I’m not a psychologist, but I’m interested in people, and I have the feeling that it is a sense of victimhood that has been exacerbated by the media.  They are fanning the flames of resentment, entitlement, and fear.  To be as vicious as some of these protesters are, they must be afraid.  People don’t behave that way if they are not afraid.  Afraid of the people around them, afraid of not having enough, afraid of violence, and afraid of the future.  Gingrich is concerned that we are entering a political-cultural civil war – and he may be correct if the “fanners of the flames” continue.  But I can’t believe that most Americans hate their country or their fellow-Americans.   So, what can we do to turn things around?  Fred Rogers spoke about making goodness attractive.   We need to do that.   It sounds very Pollyanna-ish but perhaps we, as individuals, can be nicer, smile more, and speak more warmly to people whom we encounter, offer helping hands – give “random acts of kindness.”  And, if we can, control our own urges to criticize, to get angry, to shout – and turn off television more!

Christine MacNulty
Christine MacNultyhttps://applied-futures.com/
CHRISTINE MacNulty has forty years’ experience as a consultant in long-term strategic -planning for concepts as well as organizations, futures studies, foresight, and technology forecasting, technology assessment and related areas, as well as socio-cultural change. For the last twenty years, most of her consultancy has been conducted for the Department of Defense and the Services, NATO ACT, NATO NEC, the British Army’s Force Development & Training Command, and the German BBK. Prior to that her work was in the commercial arena where she had Fortune Global 500 clients. During the last thirty-five years Christine MacNulty has contributed methods and models for understanding social and cultural change through people’s values. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1989. She is the coauthor of two books: Industrial Applications of Technology Forecasting, Wiley, 1971 and Strategy with Passion – A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016. Her paper: “Method for minimizing the negative consequences of nth order effects in strategic communication actions and inactions” was published in NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal, p 99, Winter 2015. Two monographs “Truth, Perception & Consequences” (2007) and “Transformation: From the Outside In or the Inside Out” (2008) were published by the Army War College. Perceptions, Values & Motivations in Cyberspace appeared in the IO Journal, 3rd Quarter, 2009, and The Value of Values for IO, SC & Intel was published in the August 2010 edition of the IO Journal.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful article, Christine MacNulty! I am with you and the late Mr. Fred Rogers (may he rest in blissful peace). I choose everyday to greet my neighbors, to treat people I encounter with kindness and respect, and continue my news fast of now almost five years. Every Wednesday from 5 pm to 6 pm my friends, Larry, Ruth, and I stand at the main intersection of our town in NC with signs that simply say “LOVE.” We wave and smile at all the drivers and pedestrians traveling through the intersection. We’ve been doing this since September 2018. It’s a complete joy. We are simply standing for LOVE.

    I appreciate you sharing about how much you love this country, your experiences living here, and that you are an immigrant. I’m grateful for your encouragement and invitation to engage in acts of kindness. (And to turn off the TV! Yes!) :)

  2. Christine, you speak to me loudly! I believe in the power of one, one who makes noises for good, one who draws others to her or him to spread the joy of living, and one who perseveres despite all the negativity surrounding us these days.

    A smile. A kind word. A hug, when appropriate. All that can make the day and sunshine so much brighter for all!

    Thank you!

  3. Christine, loved your article and the only comment I shall make in response without sounding like “Oh Know” here it comes! is that God has been removed from so much in our country in many ways, and I feel that that in itself gone, “What a difference the World would be if that was not the case. Great Article.