What does it mean to be a nice person?
Well, depending on who you ask, you might get a few different answers, which is a bit odd because you’d think that there should be universal qualities for nice people…but, sadly, that’s not the case.
People often consider themselves or others as being a nice person solely because they’re nice to the people that they know — the people in their immediate network such as their colleagues, their friends, and family. And yes, you should definitely be nice to those people for a start. However, kindness shouldn’t be limited to just the people you personally know.
Being a genuinely nice person means that you show kindness not only to the people you know, but to complete strangers as well. Being a nice person means that you’re considerate of other people’s feelings, regardless of who they are, what they look like, how old they are, what the color of their skin is, or where’s their country of origin.
It means being nice to others regardless of their social status, their economic status, their religion, or their political views. Being a nice person means that you show empathy towards others. It means that you treat people fairly, honestly, and equally regardless of surrounding circumstances.
And the thing is, being nice to just the people you know doesn’t exempt you from being nice to the people you don’t know. Moreover, being nice also doesn’t exempt you from having your own internal prejudices.
You can be a nice person to the people you know and still treat strangers terribly. You can be a nice person and still think terrible thoughts. You can be a nice person and still be racist — because the two aren’t mutually exclusive, despite our preconceived notions.
We often measure people’s kindness based on the actions that they take, but we often don’t stop to notice the actions that people don’t take as well. We don’t pay attention to the people who are being silently ignored. We don’t pay attention to the people that are being actively left out. We don’t pay attention to the subtle ways that people, who are we perceive as “genuinely nice”, are actually not very nice to select groups of other people.
And I don’t know what it is.
Maybe it’s because we don’t want to believe the truth when we see it. Maybe it’s because if we finally notice it, then we’ll feel compelled to act when we didn’t want to interfere in the first place. Maybe it’s because we’re generally disinterested in paying any attention at all.
But, in this moment in time, we need to start paying attention to people because we’re living in a time where there is still a great divide across multiple groups of individuals. We’re living in a time where our voice can and needs to be heard in order to affect real change. We’re living in a time where we have the platform — we just need to project our voice.
If we don’t, then all of those people who are being passively ignored or actively excluded or intentionally harmed (both emotionally and physically) could be in serious danger.
We do have the power to affect real change. We just need to act on it.
That is what determines how “nice” we really are.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, check out “My Family Never Talked to Me About Race”