Kindness Matters

In matters of social interactions...kindness matters. For as long as I can remember being nice to others has been the goal. When teaching the golden rule to children, it is often simplified as: Be Nice to people. But what is niceness and is it really better than being kind?

My adult life has been spent as a teacher, and I have often been accused of not being very nice. While that accusation has come from, at times, disgruntled students or parents not happy with a grade decision, when I look at nice v kind, I can certainly see that I am not often nice, but I am always kind.

I have tried to instill this value in my students - to give people what they need when they need it. I have also tried to instill in my students an appreciation for sarcasm. Sarcasm is witty and points out truths but is far from nice. Nice is sugary sweet and, personally, is fraught with phoniness or even superficial compliments. I recently read an article on that put it quite succinctly. The article was titled Why You Should Be Kind Not Nice by Meghan Walbert (

In the article Ms. Walbert explains "Think of kindness as the act that accompanies (or replaces) your words. It’s silently helping a struggling mom of three kids unload her groceries into her trunk, rather than smiling and saying, “You’re doing a great job, mama,” as you breeze past. It’s bringing a pot of soup to your sick friend, rather than sighing sympathetically and saying you hope they feel better soon. You’re kind if you shovel your neighbor’s car out from under a pile of snow, stop to help a stranger change a tire, or pause to give an obviously lost person some directions—even if you’re not the type of person to bother saying “Bless you,” when someone else sneezes".

Remember, the serial killer or mass murdered is generally described as such a nice person that everyone is shocked by their behavior. I prefer to be kind, to give you what you need, even if you don't like my attitude in the process. Kindness can be tough but sweet like a hard candy with a soft middle. A teacher might be very nice, always high five or hug you, give you compliments left and right, but not be attuned to your individual needs. Nice teachers say things that make you feel good. Kind teachers do things that help you be good.

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