What is the difference between being good and being nice?
When I was a kid, there was this really good musical I liked called "Into The Woods." It was a wonderful fairy-tale-with-a-twist story, with Bernadette Peters playing the Witch. Great stuff. And, as it is with so many things, when I got older, the story began to mean different things to me. Being little and not world wise, I just liked the singing. Now, each song has an important moral, be it about the pains of growing up, or realizing that you can't always tell right from wrong.
There's one song that the Witch sings, called "Last Midnight" that always stuck in my mind. You see, in the story a giant is threatening a whole villiage unless they give up this one boy to them. No one want to do that and they all begin to blame each other for starting the mess in the first place. The Witch cuts in, basically saying that they know the right thing to do is to give up the boy to save everybody, but everyone is too spineless to do it. Her words: You're not good/You're not bad/You're just nice/I'm not good/I'm not nice/I'm just right/
It sucks having to do the right thing sometimes, although in this story they were able to get around it, but the Witche's words really rang true for me. Being a nice person isn't the same as being a good one. A nice person is someone you can't always trust, who takes the easiest road that pleases the most people. A good one always tries to do the right thing, even when it's difficult.
A guy down the street from me a couple days ago asked if one of us could drive him somewhere before we went to work. We didn't know this guy particularly well, certainly not well enough to take him somewhere alone in one of our cars. The answer was always going to be "no" but what bothered me was how the "no" was said.
I told him we all got up pretty early (around 5:30) which was too early for him. This was a lie, we don't get up that early, but pretty early for most people. And we would have had to get up even earlier to take him. It would have been quite inconvienent and a hassle and not I, nor anyone else within earshot, wanted to do it. I like my pattern, getting into work on time and leaving at a set time, and if I have to mess that up, there had better be a good reason.
Why didn't I just tell him that? Why lie? That was the "nice" thing to do. But really, it was the worse thing because he knew we were lying (he'd seen us leave at later times) and it was really an offense to both our intellects that I thought he would believe it.
As I went to bed, I continued to talk to this man in my head. "We would have had to get up real early to take you, and then you'd have to wait for the place to open, I don't want some stranger in my car." I was annoyed with this man for messing up my night with these guilts and self-doubts, but really I was annoyed with myself for being nice and not the (hopefully) good person I try to be.