I saw a piece about someone who said something nice— and another someone responded with unkind words, and this made yet another person upset.
“(S)he just said something nice. Can’t you just accept that and move on?”
After all, they have a point. Being nice is…nice. I wish society could be nicer. Jimmy Stewart once said, “You can be oh so clever or oh so pleasant. For years, I was clever. I prefer pleasant.” I love intelligence, of any sort– but it’s a breath of fresh air to encounter a truly nice person.
I value “niceness,” I do. But, sometimes, okay, quite a lot of the time, I am tired of “niceness.” “Nice” girls smile and nod pleasantly. They don’t say that their mothers were abusive or that their stepfathers molested them. That is not the sort of thing nice girls say. Nice girls say, “All mothers are wonderful!”
“Nice” is okay, but it is somewhat lacking in depth.
I should have sided with the person who said the celebrity in question said something nice. I didn’t do that. I took the side of the person who said the “mean” statement.
Which throws some people off. You are so sweet, people say. Nobody expects me to be mean. Truthfully, I am sweet. Most of the time. I am terrible with conflict, traditionally. I don’t do “mean” well. I like being nice and pleasant and warm like butter and snickerdoodles and .
I am mostly sugar and not spice– but I do have a dash of nutmeg.
Let me share a story: My youngest munchkin said I could marry anyone I like, but they had to be nice, nice, kind, kind and helpful. Yes, I deliberately repeated the first two traits. Because she did. I have every intention, too, to marry someone nice and kind. She likes everyone to be nice and happy around her. As do I. It’s funny, though, because for such a little person, she has uttered some very cruel words.
…because a couple of things, to start.
1. Sometimes being nice isn’t a reasonable response.
That nice comment I responded to in a “mean” fashion WAS nice. But, you see, the last twenty actions/words spoken by that person were petty, vindictive, harmful, or in some other way purely awful. Words are beautiful, but hollow words ring empty. And the past doesn’t get erased, because you suddenly decide to say ONE NICE THING.
I don’t believe people are lost causes ninety nine percent of the time. A few, a very small few, are so broken there is no helping them. I met one, not too long ago. Someone who got blackout drunk whenever I saw her. She threw herself at me when drunk, to the point that I had to eventually cut off the friendship entirely. She later claimed my partner assaulted her, though they were never alone together. Some people cannot be saved.
Yes, I believe in forgiveness. But it takes more than one apology or one positive statement. Because–
2. Being nice, when it’s based on ignorance, isn’t much to me.
You know that person who is “nice” because they won’t say a potentially hurtful opinion? Niceness does not have to equivocate to shallowness. I am not always “nice” in my writings, although I know I could be more popular if I catered to everyone and made sure I never said anything controversial.
But I’d also get bored. I don’t think you necessarily have to be vivicious, but the world isn’t always nice. Sometimes it requires a sharp mind and an equally sharp tongue.
3. Loving words are not enough. Kind words are not enough. Kind actions do matter.
True empathy and kindness is more than words, though words are, well, nice. Moreover, it is consistent. You have to be good to everyone, not just to the people you think are worth kindness and love. You can slip up, but overall?
You have to be kind to the people that need it, even if you get no recognition for it. No social media brownie points. I appreciate when anyone tries to say something good, in my opinion, the “right” thing.
4. Niceness, when only shown when people are looking, isn’t quite the same.
The other day, you shared an article about abused kids in cages. I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with you. These children need help. Some may say it’s “politicizing” the issue to talk about it. But I believe it’s not right to dust this under the carpet and pretend it’s not happening.
Except I also saw you screaming at your own child about how they are stupid and unreliable and how they will never be better. Nobody was around to see it, well, nobody you cared about. Now I think those posts you share on social media aren’t about the children at all, but about yourself. Because if you care about children only when someone sees you, do you really care about them? I may have misjudged you, but this is how I feel.
So, yes, I appreciate your kind words or your productive actions.
But that doesn’t mean I trust you. There’s this person in my life who, from time to time, is nice to me. And I’d love to embrace that. But I know what will happen. I’ve seen it. I never know when the niceness will stop and it will go back to what it always used to be (or worse!)
I will never trust them again. No matter how nice they are to me.