I know you
and you hide it, because you fear getting stepped on one more time
it seems that when you show a part of yourself
that is the least bit vulnerable
someone takes advantage of you
one of them steps on you
they mistake kindness for weakness
but you know the difference
you've been the brunt of their weakness for years
is something you know a bit about
because you had to be strong to keep yourself alive
you know yourself very well now
and you don't trust people
you know them too well
Taken from Henry Rollins' poem I know you. If you haven't read the whole thing. It's noded.
This is partly in response to I was a nice guy once but it's also from a desire to maybe clear up what being nice means.
It can mean many things, whether you are being nice to women, men, dogs, or your neighbors' rosebushes. You can be civil, friendly, self-sacrificing, or a doormat. The extremes are always easier than finding balance somewhere in the middle, and many people, when they have failed at seeking balance, run to either pole and hold on for dear life. I have been at both extremes, first being a doormat, then being a heartless bitch, neither of which satisfied me.
Supposedly, the meek shall inherit the earth, but meekness is not a rewarding attribute in society, not really. Humility is something we attribute to people who have, perhaps, been forced into submission by their inability to fare well in the jungle that is the real world. We attribute meekness to nuns and priests who are supposed to abstain from sex. The only humility that is really admirable is that which refuses to die out from regular exposure to unkind circumstances.
The reason I mention meekness is that, in part, being nice is similar to being meek. Meekness involves a sacrifice of self made willingly for a common good that benefits others and, generally, is self-rewarding. There is no such thing as a selfless act in my book, and I don't think this is a bad thing, for we were meant to experience joy and satisfaction from whatever actions we put our minds to. Meekness calls on us to put other people forward, to never refuse help when it is asked of us, to give to those who lack. Niceness, in a way, does the same thing.
Some people are nice in the hopes of being treated nice in return, and in essence feel that being treated nice is owed them. When they don't get equally (or even acceptable amounts) nice treatment in return, they may retaliate by not being nice to that person any more. However, this doesn't usually accomplish much with regard to the initial goal, to be treated nice in return. Most people do not learn how to treat you by your retraction of typical behavior, for it leaves too much open for speculation. Another way to react in a similar fashion is to no longer to be nice to anyone, or better put, just anyone. With this, it's a toss up; you no longer require yourself to sacrifice as much and you may not get as much of a return, but you feel safer, less vulnerable. It's got its good and bad points.
Now this would be the part where I say, "You know, I've been fucked over oodles of times more than all of you put together, and I'm still nice, so I'm a better example of the human capacity to forgive and get over it than you." Or it would be a good time to offer detailed lessons on what this guy or that girl did wrong to get stepped on for being too nice. Well, I'm sorry if I disappoint you, but all I can do is tell you how I deal with being nice and let you decide if I make any sense.
Give to others any portion you have been given in the past, maybe more.
Like everyone, I have had hard times. When I first moved here and soon thereafter lost my apartment, a girl who knew me for maybe a few months put me up until I got back on my feet again. Because she helped me, I help others. Because she couldn't help me much more than that, I help others more than she helped me. I want to help others in ways I couldn't be helped instead of becoming consumed with bitterness for what I didn't get back then.
Being nice guarantees NOTHING except that you are being nice.
If I expect a guy that I helped to move furniture up and down 3 flights of stairs in July to help me move out of my place any more than the guy I helped move furniture up and down 1 flight of stairs in January, I have helped both of them for the wrong reasons. While I think they should help if they can, if they can't I shouldn't hold it against them. Making oneself out to be a martyr for being nice is misdirected pride, and it doesn't fool anyone.
Being nice is what we should do, and it wasn't EVER designed to be easy, natural, or common.
Kindness is not fully inherant in our nature. We tend to trust the world around us by how well it takes care of us. If kindness were easy, everyone would be nice, but it is not easy; it requires, in part, to put the other person first or to disqualify certain issues on the basis that they are not worth the forfeiture of the peace. It is so much harder to back down than it is to keep fighting. I don't think anyone would really disagree with this. Kindness requires a sacrifice that we are not trained to exhibit socially, meaning that I think we learn kindness in spite of what the world teaches us is wise. And, we can just as easily lose our tendency for kindness because of what the world teaches us is wise.
I do what I do because it's what's right; it's what I feel I should do. I derive pleasure from helping people, and while they don't always return the kindness, they return it enough times to foster my faith in people. It is not easy to not give up on people, to not see only the past failures and believe wholeheartedly that there is only failure in the future. Kindness makes sense to me a world that makes no sense, and therefore I cannot put my trust in the world but I can put my trust in kindness. In fact, because I believe in cosmic irony, kindness makes the most sense because the world doesn't, for the world cannot give me what love can.
If you, for whatever reasons, cannot be nice, I will likely understand your reasons and even relate to some. I guess for me, as close as I often feel to the edge, I don't want to push away any help that may come my way because people before that person fucked me over. I just can't give up on people and think that I will survive with half the population all of a sudden silent in the world.