You think they're synonyms and you act like they're synonyms, but the truth is that one turns outward, into the world as a positive force, and one turns inward, as a self-injury. As a dampening of the light. And I still sometimes have to get this basic on myself when I'm making choices: Am I being Nice, or am I being Kind? Because I think I am a very kind person, a compassionate person, but I wouldn't -- and I don't think anyone who's ever met me would -- ever call me Nice.
And this is how I'm feeling about Alicia right now, this year, this week: She's still trying to figure out where Nice ends and Kind begins, and she's had forty years of people, men and the women who regurgitate their words, telling her there is no difference. If they sell you the idea that Nice is a virtue, they can intimidate you with the whole world; if you buy the idea that Nice is your virtue -- c.v. GCB, which honestly I love -- you can justify any cruelty you do. So whenever Alicia does anything, Kind or even just Neutral, there's still this inner voice going, "Was that nice? Am I still nice? Can I still think of myself as nice?"
To which voice I would very kindly reply: "Fuck off, Nice. This is my house. You weren't born here, you were put here by my enemies to make me stupid and weak. Come back when you've decided to help. Because I have decided to help."
Which brings us to the end, and that question still ringing in her ears: Is she being nice, or is she being kind? If she's being nice, she'll "forgive" Kalinda and just resent her forever and they will never love each other again. But if she's being kind, she has to check in with herself and see where they're at, and then tell Kalinda. It's a small choice, but a very big one too. A very brave, very kind choice, presented verbatim.
Alicia: "The other day when you brought the beer, I wasn't..."
Kalinda: "It's all right. They were warm anyway..."
Alicia: "Look, I can't go back to the way it was before. There's just been too much... But . I'd like to try to make it work. It's just that everything... it has to be... on the table. I can't be the only one being forthcoming. I can't be the only one being honest. Can you ... do that?"