I laughed as I read the email, which began, “Dear Secretary of Nice.”

The email was from a friend who’s also a regular reader of my column, and her salutation was a reference to a column I wrote a month ago, in which I suggested we could do with a “Department of Nice” in the federal government. And I assigned myself to be in charge of it.

That idea came from a recent conversation with my husband and daughter. We were discussing the upcoming presidential election and the candidates who were running, and we then started speculating on which government offices or departments different family members might be suited for, based on their background or experience. Before deciding to run the Department of Nice, I considered being an ambassador.

We weren’t taking any of this seriously, of course, which is why I’m now shaking my head in disbelief over the fact that since then I have actually become an ambassador. Officially, and in real life.

It didn’t happen as a result of my “Department of Nice” column, but one I wrote a few weeks later. That column was about the anniversary of a tornado in my hometown, and about the preparations and precautions we should all take when faced with the threat of a tornado.

A few days later, I received an email from an official with the National Weather Service, thanking me for informing readers about severe weather and sirens, and asking me to become a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. This is part of a National Weather Service initiative to educate and prepare people regarding severe weather conditions, in order to keep everyone as safe as possible whenever we’re threatened with dangerous weather.

Although I’m no weather expert, I’m all for sharing information, experience, and advice that can help keep people safe from tornadoes or other deadly storms. Or from anything else, for that matter, that threatens our health, safety, and well-being. That covers a lot of territory, and it’s a job we should all share, really. We don’t need to be an ambassador or the head of a government agency. We don’t need any “official” designation. We just need to be caring, conscientious members of our community.

So I’m going to take it upon myself, as an official Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador and as the unofficial Secretary of the Department of Nice, to assign everyone reading this the responsibility of showing care and concern for other members of their community – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or anyone in need. Let’s take it upon ourselves to do everything we can to keep each other safe when threatened with danger of any kind, whether it’s from stormy weather, stormy relationships, or anything else that puts a dark cloud over our heads.

You don’t have to accept this assignment, of course, but I hope you will, because there really is safety in numbers. And because the more we look out for each other, the safer we all will be.

And because it’s the nice thing to do.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 14, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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