Thursday, June 18, 2015

Not Actually Nice

There's someone here whom I dislike quite intensely.  Let's just say she and her spouse have a lot of children and some precarious employment and an addiction problem.  But they vote Republican because they're good hard working Americans!  Welfare is only for white evangelical people like them!

These fine people are expecting another child shortly.  (EIGHT!!  While I hesitate to impugn anyone's longing for a child, perhaps one might stop at a number one can support?). The spouse has been kicked out of the house for using again and she's trying to solicit $10,000 to buy a car.

Well, you know, I'd quite like people to give ME $10,000, too.

Of course I did NOT feel moved to contribute.  But I did email the lady and ask if she'd like me to bring dinner by, because nobody deserves to go hungry.  Her response was no thank you, we're okay for now, but how nice and sweet of you.

No.  It was not nice.  I was offering solely out of my conviction that it was the right thing to do.  Acually I feel rather a worm of a human being to be praised for it because none of my feelings about this person could be described as nice.

However, I will still bring her dinner after the baby's born.   I feel obligated to be more charitable in deed precisely *because* I am less charitable in thought.

9 comments:

  1. Can't remember where I heard it, but I've adopted the statement as my own now "I don't aspire to be nice, but I do try to be kind". Nice cares what you think of me. Kind does not. Taking dinner to someone you don't like is kind.

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    1. That's exactly it! Thank you. I will try to practice kindness- I do think of nice as a more inherent thing.

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  2. My sister is expecting #7 in January.

    I have....thoughts and feelings....about this.

    [gah. won't let me post from LJ username again.]

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    1. Jenny F Scientist1:18 PM

      Mmmm. Aside from my horror at the thought of me, personally, having seven children, I can't help but think it's a wee bit unsustainable.

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  3. Oh phew, I thought you were talking about ME with the lots of children... I really like the comment above re nice vs. kind. I'm neither. I'd be like You're HORRIFYING and I'm going to avoid you.

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    1. Three seems like a lot to me but only because I totally can't handle it! EIGHT seems like my worst nightmare. Fortunately, two PhDs AND a little snip snip should be enough to prevent n>3

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    2. Jenny F. scientist3:55 PM

      P.S. I also hope your spouse is not an unemployed addict. That could be awkward.

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  4. Darcy8:57 AM

    This reminds me, in a funny way, of my effort some years ago to teach middle schoolers than when someone gives them something extra (e.g. homemade cookies), the best response is "Thank you," not "You're so nice." Some of my colleagues thought I was weirdly uptight about this. But I think it's good rule, in the face of generosity, to honor the substance of the transaction rather than going straight to assessing the motives or character of the person who was generous. It's less intrusive, too. (I appreciate thanks from middle schoolers but do not need character analysis from them . . .)

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    1. Yes indeed. I approve of having GOOD BOUNDARIES.

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