Jan 6, 2005

when size matters

People are fairly fond of the word nice. Just be nice. That wasn’t very nice. I value niceness.
To be frank it’s a word that gets on my nerves.
It always sounds to be like the stepsister of polite, sort of damning with faint praise and lacking in definition. What is nice? There are niceties, and those have to do with table manners and minding one’s Ps and Qs. And then these is this other thing...this sort of abstract bland sense of goodness…that can have some strange connotations having to do with virtue, innocence and often a certain idiocy that precludes critical thought or pride. We’ve all heard it: she’s just too nice. Nice people finish last, right?
So, I’ve decided to seek out new ways to express what exactly it is that truly irks me when people show traits that reveal a lack of consideration, sensitivity or kindness.
And I realized that when I have the thought “(s)he’s just not a very nice person” I thinking something far more damning than a phrase one might apply to puppy dogs and a floral arrangement. I am thinking: “(S)he’s not a very strong person” “Not a particularly thoughtful person” and mostly “S(he) is just not a very big person”
Because I think that’s what it comes down to for me. When I see someone be a jerk…cruel or selfish or inhumane or negligently careless, I tend to think of them as less...Smaller and underdeveloped, really. Because it takes a certain strength, a certain inner growth to just back off and be the bigger person, to spare someone a bit of discomfort in lieu of your own, to end argument because you are willing to give some ego, to go out of ones way to help or think of another. And I think those who display and encourage this strength in themselves find it increases their awareness and self-confidence to think of others, not decreases it. Not to mention their inner peace and politcal savvy.
And really: their must be some cognitive dissonance about acting the very way that offends you. About saying things you know would hurt you, or doing things bound to upset. And every time you get angry at someone for being an ass, there must be an uncomfortable sense, a guilt or self-loathing, a fear, when you recall yourself acting the exact same way, when you know you’ve perpetuated the cycle.
Or maybe not. Maybe that’s how it all works. Maybe some people are able to remove themselves, subconsciously from the cycle, so that they don’t have to think of their actions. Maybe they forget or revise.
I don’t know, but that would still exhibit the same response. That anyone apt to ignore their own negligent or cruel behavior is not only adding to this atmosphere of viciousness and fear, but they are inhibiting their own ability to grow. What a small person.

No comments: