What does it mean to be nice? Is it thinking nice thoughts, acting nicely, or both, or either, or neither? Does one be nice to people who aren't? Is not doing anything at all being nice?
The gold standard seems to be "if you really need xx's help, they'll help"
FIRSTLY, research has shown that when people get mugged/ stabbed/ mysteriously faint or whatever in the streets, often no-one does anything cos they're waiting for someone ELSE to do something. But I'm sure some of them have to be vaguely nice.
SECONDLY, maybe you're being patronizing, maybe they don't want your help, maybe what they want is just to hear something nice being said to them for once and it's absolutely no use to spout cliches, and give superficial help because it makes people feel as if you really couldn't be bothered. furthermore, the act of helping could be fuelled by so many motives that it doesn't really always give rise to warm fuzzy feelings.
thirdly, and probably most importantly the problem sometimes lies in the fact that people have different ideas about what constitutes seriously needing help. It could be the most important thing in the world, but to them, it means nothing. THAT, in my opinion, is what constitutes friendship - it doesn't really mean anything to you, but you KNOW it OBVIOUSLY means something to the person who is ASKING YOU TO HELP WITH IT, and thus you do it anyway.
(but i love the whiteness of snow against the stark black of the dirtroads, and i loved doing something for people on vday although i felt rather useless for a bit and i made it for mass today =))
i might go for lunchtime mass tomorrow so looking forward to that too, i've never been and there's lunch after!
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