I am often described as a “nice” person. I don’t take offense to this. One of my top priorities in life is to make other people feel loved, respected, and better able to realize their potential. I appreciate the adjective “nice” if I believe it has those connotations.
However, there comes a point where I draw the line. I object to the word “nice” when it is followed by “I mean, you like, never get angry…” Friends, I get angry often. Hearing that I never get angry makes me kind of angry. I get angry when the kids I peer tutor every week come in without books because their teachers don’t trust them. When people stubbornly refuse to respect one another, it makes me angry.
When someone says that I “never get angry” as a compliment, I am listening. And my sweet, beautiful friends are listening. We all respond to praise given to ourselves and others. So when someone says something like, “it is a positive thing that you never get mad,” we think that it is not okay to be angry. Since we are human and humans get angry, this can create a lot of misplaced guilt and passive-aggressive guesswork.
I believe righteous anger is a positive thing if dispensed correctly. I talked to the supervisor of peer tutoring, who talked to the teachers of the students, to ensure that they now have books with which they can do their homework. It is the anger Harry feels for Voldemort that makes him keep fighting (sorry, I interpret the world through Harry Potter). Even Jesus became righteously angry when people used the temple as a market (John 2:15, I think). It is only by becoming angry about the injustices of the world that we can have any hope of fixing them.
Though I believe kindness (“niceness,” if your vocabulary is thus disposed) is an under-valued and precious trait, I refuse to be a doormat. I will defend my right to be angry, even if people assign me the description “bitch”, which is what I believe my friends and I shy away from when thinking about expressing our anger. P and I always talk about creating a better culture, and I think that means creating a culture where people (especially women-people) can be kind, loving, and passionately angry at the same time.
Lots of love,