Day Ten: One confession
I don’t know how long of a post this is going to be, but it should be interesting, nonetheless. I’m super-uber tired and might fall asleep in the middle of it. (You should be so lucky.)
I’m not really that nice. I’m kind, yes, and compassionate, but I’m not a traditionally “nice” person. I’m not a liberal, but I’m also not a conservative in either of the traditional senses. I have many opinions that would mortify either group, but that’s okay. My opinions are well-earned but always open to challenge: if you give me some compelling evidence, I’m willing to consider and even change if the situation deems it necessary.
Individually, I get along with people fairly well. I don’t go out of my way to hurt or bother people, but if there’s an opportunity to illuminate an unpleasant truth, I do my best to deliver. Often, I choose my words very carefully to ensure the highest level of reception, but at the same time, the underlying sentiment is not necessarily warm and fuzzy. I’ve gotten in heated arguments about whether or not this is dishonest, but I don’t feel that it is: an idea is a concept first, and we, as humans, have to choose which words we use to express those concepts. Natural selection operates internally and externally, and for our word-sound-concepts to propagate, we have to select for the highest level of reception.
As an example, I might have an experience with someone who is facing an abusive situation. Where my emotional response would want me to scream and yell and ask what the hell they’re doing being in that abusive situation, that does nothing more than create an additional level of guilt that ultimately puts that person in a position to continue in the abusive situation. The natural selection process provides instead an option to have a rational discussion, presenting pros, cons, replicable evidence and circumstantial examples. Real and practical suggestions are presented, and perhaps at this point the emotions are placated by being aired, providing another level of support to leave or otherwise resolve the situation.
The motivation for this example, however, is not “nice”, nor is it especially altruistic (although it may be to some small degree). It is primarily selfish because having this friend going through this situation is uncomfortable for me personally, both as an abuse survivor and as a friend who has to deal with the fallout of the abusive situation. The option of cutting the friend off could also be considered a reasonable option, but that would lead to a reduction of emotional resources – friends to socialize with, to learn from, to share with – and that is not a circumstance that is desirable in terms of selection for survival.
While all of these very austere and objective thoughts are going on, there is still a great deal of love and compassion that motivates and colors both words and actions. I’m not an altogether terrible person, neither heartless nor emotionless – very much the opposite! – but I think that because my “waters run deep” (I have very intense emotions), I’ve created a system of decision-making and communication that does not rely on emotions and is only basically influenced by them.
I can’t judge myself as a nice person, nor can I judge myself as a mean person. Of course, I don’t judge in the first place (judging also is not a positive selection), but if I had to put a word on it, I’d only say that I am merely compassionate – and that is not all hearts and flowers but determined only for the highest good, whether it feels warm and fuzzy or not.
There you have it, my confession: I’m “nice” for more than the usual reasons, and while it probably creates a lot more brain-work for me than most people, I often wonder if others go through the same process and just don’t know it. “Nice” might just be an illusion, but all illusions have merit if we know what they are and how to recreate them.
The original list is here:
- Day One (ten things said to people)
- Day Two (nine things about me)
- Day Three (eight ways to win my heart)
- Day Four (seven things that cross your mind)
- Day Five (six things you wish you’d never done)
- Day Six (five people who mean a lot)
- Day Seven (four turn-offs)
- Day Eight (three turn-ons)
- Day Nine (two smileys)
- Day Ten (one confession)