A Conversation with Conrad

I read an email group conversation in which my friend Conrad and another group member (AGM) were chatting:

AGM: “If you act nice to them, people won’t take you seriously.”

Conrad responded: “What the hell do I care whether I’m taken seriously?”

AGM: “Good point. But if it doesn’t help you, why be nice to people?”

C: “Sometimes it helps me [to be nice]. But don’t you just like being nice to people?”

AGM: “Sometimes. But then if they’re not nice back I get upset.”

C: “Yeah; just skip that part. How often are you nice to people?”

AGM: “Not too often. I’m usually waiting for them to do something where they deserve me being nice to them.”

C: “Then that’s not being nice. That’s being fair.”

(Edited excerpt from Mindlist, 2009)

The problem with “fairness” is that it’s always lopsided: “balanced” more towards the person(s) doing the judging. I tend to judge something as fair when I get what I want – and unfair when I don’t.

What about fairness?

Carol put fairness into perspective –

Although rational philosophy defines fairness in terms of equity, my ego defines it as, “That which benefits me most and threatens me least.” Justice, then, is defined as, “My interests compared to yours.” (Aha Zone – Fairlessness or the Myth of Fairness)

Consider some of my motives for niceness:

  • I treat others nice so they will treat me nice.
  • Niceness works to get what I want.
  • I manipulate others by acting nice.
  • I act nice to demonstrate fairness to me.
  • My actions of niceness get me attention.
  • My niceness has a hidden agenda.
  • I have to force myself to be nice.
  • I use niceness as a defense.

If niceness isn’t fairness, what is it?

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