A Case Against Being "Nice"

Conversation had with my 8 year old son whilst listening to Anne of Green Gables this week:

Anne, "Which would you rather be if you had the choice -- divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?"
Son, "I dunno, either clever or good."
Me, "It depends whether she means good as in doing what's expected of you or having a good heart."
Son, "Yeah I meant a good heart."
Anne, "I'll never be angelically good."
Son, "Oh she meant that kind. Definitely clever then."

This conversation reflects a lot of what's been bouncing around in my head this last week with all the divisiveness in our country. My son, and I, would rather be good at heart than "angelically good" according to some external expectation set before us.

What does this have to do with the state of our country?  Lots, I would argue.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the difference between being "kind" and being "nice." In esscence, kindness comes from the heart and is internally motivated and based on empathy for ourselves and others. Niceness, on the other hand, comes from an external place based on expectations and a desire to keep things "pleasant." 

I feel that as a culture, we have placed way more emphasis on "niceness" and not nearly enough on "kindness." Why is this a problem? Because if we say and do what is expected of us for the sake of politeness, and don't speak up for what we truly believe, then we give away our power. When we give away our power, we either build up resentment, or feel powerless in the face of adversity, or both. 

Speaking up assertively for our own needs and the needs of those around us is true kindness. This is so eloquently expressed by Anna Kunnecke in her most recent post on A Fierce Kindness. It was completely coincidental that she was my interview for this week's podcast. She too has been inspired and influenced by the kind realness of Anne of Green Gables, which she shares a bit of on the show.