Despise Nithings

Over and over during this election campaign the same theme keeps coming up in news stories and in conversations: many, many people don’t like either of the two main candidates. While each candidate certainly has ardent supporters, many voters say they find both candidates so distasteful and dishonest that they don’t want to vote for anyone.

The problem is actually bigger than just these two candidates. As a society, honor and integrity are no longer values that we hold paramount. The evidence is everywhere, not just in the political arena. On college campuses, there is an epidemic of rape and sexual assault. Every year, too many criminal convictions are overturned because the police or prosecutors are revealed to have concealed or falsified evidence. The news recently has been full of stories about unscrupulous drug companies raising the prices of essential drugs far above the price necessary to recoup expenses and make a reasonable profit, just because they know they can—people will die if they don’t get the drugs. In the financial arena, Wells Fargo was recently caught opening bogus accounts in customers’ names to generate extra charges and profits. In our government, members of Congress swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution and to “well and fully discharge the duties” of their office. Not so many years ago, that meant that once an election was over and a majority of the citizens of our country elected a president, the members of Congress in both parties would strive to work together with each other and the president to govern our country. No longer. All that matters to our “leaders” in Congress now is winning, and for the past eight years Congressional members of the party that lost the presidency have repeatedly broken their oaths, have refused to work together with members of the other side or the president, and have expended all of their efforts not to govern, but rather to prevent the duly elected president from effectively governing. And then there’s that special variety of honorless cowards the internet has given rise to: those who hide behind the internet’s cloak of anonymity to launch vile verbal attacks and threats against others—internet trolls.

Actually, there’s another name that perfectly fits the trolls, and all of the others whose behavior is beyond excuse: Nithings.

Over a thousand years ago in Scandinavia, the Viking peoples had a culture and society with values that frankly were in many ways better than ours are today. The real Vikings were not just savage, bloodthirsty barbarians and pirates, although that is how they are often portrayed today in many works of fiction, including the History Channel’s Vikings television series. Part of my mission in writing The Strongbow Saga, has been—in addition to spinning an exciting and moving tale—to provide an accurate portrayal of the Viking peoples and their society and culture. In reality, only a small percentage of the population of Viking-age Scandinavia ever went i-viking, or raiding. Most were farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, and merchants. But whereas in our modern society, and particularly here in the United States, people are held up for high regard based on things such as how much wealth and possessions they’ve acquired, how much power they possess, and whether for some reason they are considered a “celebrity,”  in the Vikings’ culture the most important qualities esteemed in a person were whether they conducted themselves with honor, integrity, and courage. Whereas in our society a person’s actual behavior often seems to be only a minor criteria by which many, especially which the rich and famous, are judged, in Viking society a person’s behavior and character were the measure of the man (or woman).

In fact, the Viking peoples so valued honor that they had a special word for those had none, those who acted dishonorably and without integrity. Such were clearly not beasts, yet because they lacked the finer qualities that human beings are capable of possessing, they were considered less than human, as well. Those without honor were considered to be unique and despised creatures, neither human nor beast, called Nithings. The word is, very appropriately, the root of our modern English language word “nothing.”

Nithing is a term that should be returned to active use. Consider this a call to action. If you would like our country, our society to be one in which we not only highly value, but expect and demand that people conduct themselves with honor and integrity, then I suggest that changing our societies standards must begin with each of us as individuals. Do not accept dishonorable behavior. Let’s all take a stand by calling out those who engage in reprehensible conduct. But let’s do so with a touch of fun. Let’s start a grass roots “Despise Nithings” campaign, and use a little humor and creativity to call out the scoundrels.

I have purchased, and will be giving away free, “Despise Nithings” bumper stickers. They don’t have to be put on bumpers, though. Be imaginative. Maybe place one across a campaign sign or photograph of a politician, celebrity, talk radio host, or other person worthy of the “Nithing” name. Maybe stick one on a crooked corporation’s name or logo. Maybe even stick one on the doors of Congress itself. Take a photo of your call-out, and post it on social media—on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc., with the tag #DespiseNithings. The more we do this, the more widely the call-outs will be seen, and the more the idea will spread. Shameful behavior should be shamed, not accepted.

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For a free “Despise Nithings” sticker, send a business-sized (4 x 9 inch), self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Despise Nithings

c/o Northman Books

P.O. Box 336

Walterville, OR 97489

It’s time for a change. It’s up to all of us to make it happen.

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8 thoughts on “Despise Nithings

  1. Hi Judson,

    Could you provide some statistics for this “epidemic of rape and sexual assault” you claim takes place on American college campuses. I think that your assessment of the situation is a little unfair, as to my knowledge rates of sexual assault on campuses are usually lower than in surrounding areas. And as for the “special variety of honorless coward the internet has given rise to” that you seem to hate so vehemently. The “internet troll” is only looking for a reaction, all you have to do is stop giving it to them. Big fan of your books, but please check statics don’t make assumptions about these things.

    • Thanks for writing, Eric, and I’m glad you’re a fan of my books. But your assumption that I’m making assumptions is incorrect. You say that “to your knowledge” the rates of sexual assault are usually lower on college campuses than in surrounding areas. What do you base that on? I did a very quick Google search just now, and found several references to statistics published by the National Sexual Violence Resource List that between 20 and 25% of women who attend college will be victims of some kind of sexual assault there (which is the kind of thing I’ve been reading in various news stories this past year, and which led me to make my statement). I think it’s fair to call that an epidemic. If 25% of the populace came down with a disease, wouldn’t epidemic be a fair description? And as to internet trolls, I wouldn’t say that I hate them so vehemently. Rather, I think they’re cowards and they disgust me. I’ve personally been fortunate and haven’t had too much dealings with their kind, but I know people who have been mercilessly abused. And to say, in effect, “just ignore them” kind of goes directly to my point. The more we allow people to get away with bad behavior, the more it tends to spread.

  2. I agree with much of what you said. But to stand behind a man without honor that is working very diligently to undermine and break down the foundations that our once great nation was founded on just because they got elected is just as dishonorable.
    The Norse, Danes and Ancient Germanic tribes all strived for a life and death with honor. But an honorable man must adhere to his own beliefs, all of them. To turn your back on your own beliefs and values compromises your integrity and thus your honor.
    Just because someone gets elected does not make them honorable, especially in today’s society. But that gets back to the root of the problem. Yes mankind as a whole has forgotten the meaning of living an honorable life. And those who uphold the old ways and adhere to the traditions of our forebears are considered archaic.
    I ask Soldiers quite frequently, “Of the seven Army Values, What do you think is the most important?”.
    Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity or Personal Courage.
    I have gotten many different answers from Enlisted men and women as well as Commissioned Officers. My reply is always the same to be an honorable man you must uphold all of them. To lack one or fail to uphold one means you have lost your honor.

    • Well said, James, and I agree with everything you say. This election has been especially troubling to me because people whom I have previously respected have shown themselves willing to disregard the Nithing candidate’s obvious lack of any shred of integrity and honor, just because they don’t want their side to lose. And as you say, if they can support such a person, they have sacrificed their own commitment to honor and integrity. Even if the worst doesn’t happen, it is going to take a long time for our country to come back from this. Hopefully it can and will.

      • Dear Mr. Roberts,
        I like your bumper sticker idea a great deal and will be sending for one soon. I don’t know the exact statistics, but if my memory hasn’t failed me completely, violent crime as a whole hadbeen decreasing steadily for over a decade until just recently. What James said above is so true. I’ve noted recently that there aremany with the courage to speak out, but unfortunately, nearly all of them seem to lack the quality of Respect, and instead of civil discussion, simply endeavor to shout everyone else down in a tideof anger. Also there are a great many men and women of respect that appear to lack the courage and resolve to speak out at all, fearing that they’ll be yelled at, ridiculed, or berated.
        As for the election itself, I voted for the candidate that I thought most fit to serve (neither an “R” nor a “D” behind his name) as I made a vow four years ago that never again would I vote for “the Lesser of Two Evils”, because I would still be putting my name and my honor beside that which I knew to be evil. That said, Mr. Trump has won, and I’ll givehim the benefit of doubt and do what I can to help him while doing my best to aid and guide my community as best I can. None the less, I will be keeping my eyes on President Trump.

        Robert Mueller
        (Salt Lake City, UT)

        P. S. Love the Strongbow Saga and am greedy for more!
        RM.

        • Thanks, Robert. The anonymity of the internet has certainly done much to erode civil discussion. When communications only occurred face to face the kind of belligerently rude behavior that occurs too frequently online was a much more risky thing, and good manners were more common.