Thursday, March 11, 2010

On Being Nice

I recently received this advice:  "Be nice to me, Kari, and I'll be nice to you."  That statement is wrong on so many, many levels.  Had I no restraint or sense of propiety, it might have made me scream and throw things.

I readily, freely, and loudly admit I am not nice.  I don't strive to be nice and I don't always respect people who are nice.

I browsed "being nice" this morning.  Look what the internet says about it:
  • going through the motions when your heart's not in it
  • pleasant, anemic, lacking depth or character
  • superficial and static quality
  • avoids telling hard truths
  • proximal quality - affects only those with direct contact
  • based on transitory actions
  • adjust expectations to fit the situation and/or people
There's little I find attractive or worthy in that list.  Is there some benefit to "going through the motions when your heart's not in it?"  I can't think of a single scenario in which I would ask someone to go through the motions for me.  Why would someone want me to do so for them?  Isn't a genuine desire to be helpful or support so much better than going through the motions?

And then there's kindness, a quality I find worthy of my full attention.  Kindness, says my friend the Internet, is:
  • internal genunine desire to be merciful
  • compassionate
  • about humanity
  • empathetic
  • a daily practice
  • proximal, affecting those with immediate contact, but also expansive, affecting people we may not even know
  • a relatively rare quality
  • about sharing what is not pleasant or easy but is helpful
  • patient
And you know?  Jesus was kind, but not always nice.  The truth Christ brought was harsh - live in Me or die.  There's nothing transitory about that truth, and it's certainly not sugar-coated to ease the digestion.   
There is something authentic and organic and true about being kind.  So, yeah, call me kind. 
Nice?  Pfft.

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