To be good and not nice, or to be nice and not good

“I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.” — just found this on Archies Archive. It nicely coincides with another experience I had today. As a vegan I usually avoid the meat section of grocery stores,  but I agreed to buy some ground beef for this older woman  so that she wouldn’t have to do the 30-min. trip to town (while I was going anyway).  I know I’ll experience strong feelings of antipathy,  but it seemed virtuous to overcome them; I’d be helping somebody, I’d be nice.

Hmmm. I bet Hitler was nice.  I bet he gave his niece presents for her birthday, I bet he’d rescue a kitten from drowning if he saw a little girl frantically crying about the possible loss of her pet. That he was responsible for the death of more people than live in New York City has little to do with being nice or not.

If I believe that it’s wrong to cause or add to the suffering of other beings, then it’s not good to have any part  in this whatsoever.  Maybe I would’ve hurt the woman’s feelings by refusing to buy the meat. She’d probably decide that I’m not a nice person, that I’m creating unnecessary problems. She doesn’t understand my reaction to dead animals.  But it would’ve been the good thing to do.

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2 Responses to To be good and not nice, or to be nice and not good

  1. Jessica says:

    I’ll get it tomorrow; it’s a complex tangle of committments that I can’t get out of. I didn’t contribute directly, but I will be involved, if ever so slightly. I’m not berating myself; I thought I was merely being nice, when I realized that there was more to it. That being nice can be a semi-conscious habit, obscuring the larger picture.

  2. Diane says:

    I’m confused, did you buy the meat or not?

    I respect your belief to not be a participant in the suffering of animals.

    Technically, you did not contribute to death of the cow.

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