This is not a rant
at least not yet. I’d describe it as a musing for the moment. It is merely a small itch in my brain that threatens to blow up into something bigger it I don’t scratch it.
Should I scratch? Or let it go. Life is full of small annoyances that society assures are unimportant. “Move on,” society seems to say. “Nothing important here.” So you do and, dag nab it, here comes another one. What’s bugging me today is the idea that nice is the way to go through life.
I like to think that I’m a good guy- someone who puts others first, goes the extra mile and practices the golden rule. I like to think a lot of things, some of them true, others not. I do know that I try. Maybe I don’t measure up all the time but one thing I know for sure. I’m driven to be nice. And what that means in practical terms is that I’ll say ‘what the heck’ and do it the other guy’s way. If being nice is so ‘nice’ then why is it that I feel so bad. Why does it make me feel like a sucker?
Being nice is just a cop out.
It turns wimpiness into virtue and makes you feel good when you ought to feel like shit. Niceness sacrifices principle and desire to the whims of the crowd. It’s easy with no guilt. When push comes to shove and I have to make a decision, I’ll defer. I will take the highway, not my way. It’s the easy way but there is a price. Knowing that society loves wimps just makes it easier to justify. I can tell myself that I’m a great, unselfish guy. Still down in the pit of my stomach something isn’t right. I know I’ve sold myself down the river.
Slowly niceness undermines independence and destroys self-confidence. It’s self immolation without the gasoline. Without thinking you devolve from master of the universe to general dogsbody while congratulating yourself on making the world a better place. It’s a lie and you know it. The world is still going to hell in a hand basket but you have relinquished control. Nice guys finish last if they finish at all.
There lies my dilemma.
So what to do? Clearly there has to be some compromise between wimp and control-freak. I don’t need it my way all the time. On the other hand I don’t want my life directed by fools. Somewhere there has to be a line that sets a boundary on living for a responsible human being.
On one side the best course is to defer to the other guy. You might defer to an expert because it will make your life better. Or the situation is non-critical and any action is OK. You can be the nice guy and do it his way because it doesn’t make any difference. On that side of the line you needn’t worry. The other guy can have it his way without bad consequences for you or him.. Everybody wins.
On the other side of that line, actions have consequences. There is a clear ‘good’ action and another which is significantly worse. That ‘good’ action will make the world a better place. The ‘bad’ action makes it worse. You know what is right and society does as well. It may hurt to make the right decision but doing right is it’s own reward.
The problem is figuring out where to draw that line. Too far to one side and you are an ego-centric control freak. Too far to the other and you are a nebbish. And no matter where you draw the line there will be someone ready to criticize you.
society loves you, just like it loves everyone else. The trouble is that society really only cares about society. Even though society is comprised of individuals, Individuals cause problems. So long as individuals defer to society, all is well. But when individuals act in their own best interest society gets annoyed. Collectivized individuals are fine but independent individuals mess things up. Society loves sheep. .
Society is an environment where individual actions interact and balance. Too much individual independence creates chaos, confusion and anarchy so society encourages conformance and cooperation through customs and standards. But society doesn’t know when to stop. Eliminate independence and self-interest and you have the Matrix. You’ve chosen the blue pill.
My quandary today is finding that line. I’d like to know when to defer and when to take charge. I’d like to know when I’m OK either way and when I lose big time. Finally, I’d like to understand how doing things the right way changes society’s course away from hell in a hand basket. I’m not getting any help from society.