Does Niceness Work With Everybody?


"If we are nice to them, they will be nice to us." This is the assumption behind the basic human principle of reciprocity, one of the foundational cornerstones of almost all cultures. If you cooperate with me, it almost compels me to cooperate with you. This is a sound principle of human relations, used to good effect in business and all other spheres of human interaction.

But reciprocity isn't inborn. It is taught. Reciprocity is intentionally and painstakingly hammered into the heads of our children until it is instinctive.

But unless you're very young, you have found out, probably painfully, that some people do not follow this principle. There are a small percentage of people who will accept your generosity and cooperation and do nothing for you in return, and have no feeling of guilt about it. They do not reciprocate. They are either sociopaths, or they never had this basic principle pounded into them at an early age.

Once you recognize someone like this, how do you treat such people? Do you keep being nice? Do you keep giving? Do you allow them to continue to take advantage of you? Maybe for awhile, but eventually, what will you do? You will stop giving. You will stop being nice.

I'm sure you have figured out why I'm bringing this up. Some ideologies are not reciprocal. Islam is one of those. It divides the world sharply into us and them. In Islamic ideology, reciprocity between Muslims is instilled. But reciprocity is sharply discouraged with non-Muslims.

Islam is a ratchet. It only goes one way.

Just as there are some people in this world who will only take advantage of your kindness and generosity, and will not reciprocate, there are some ideologies that only take advantage of fairness and accommodation, and will not reciprocate.

What shall we do with the people following such an ideology? What's the appropriate, sane, intelligent response? Tit for tat. That is, you begin with cooperation, but at the first sign of a deliberate lack of cooperation, you cut your losses and respond to a lack of goodwill with an equal lack of goodwill.

It is foolish, self-defeating, and counterproductive to do otherwise. Niceness doesn't work with everybody.


Satya 9:55 PM  

Mahatma Gandhi had no support initially but he was very strong and moved ahead with principle of non-violence. And he did wonders. But then it was short-lived wonder as Britishers left the country but gifted much of the western living in mind and hearts of people here. Some in good cause but much eroding the cultural values and sense of pride in own self, in nation.

Any approach you take, effects are not in control. It is important to be wise and change your approach if needed from time to time.

Knowing is different thing and doing after knowing is altogether different.

Thus knowing about this lack of reciprocity makes us acquaint with facts but then approach has to be designed. And yet 100% results will not be in favour. But you have to take the path backing self.

Citizen Warrior 9:12 PM  

Someone emailed this comment:

Reciprocity is not discouraged in Islam. It is forbidden. Allah forbids Moslems to take as friends Jews or Christians. Anyone else is definitely out of the question.

Robert Laity 1:39 PM  

Jesus taught "Turn the other Cheek".

With that said,I once saw a movie which was about St.Peter,the first Pope.

Peter was struck on the cheek. He turned the other cheek and was struck AGAIN.

Peter promptly struck back saying that he only had "two cheeks".

Article Spotlight

One of the most unusual articles on is Pleasantville and Islamic Supremacism.

It illustrates the Islamic Supremacist vision by showing the similarity between what happened in the movie, Pleasantville, and what devout fundamentalist Muslims are trying to create in Islamic states like Syria, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia (and ultimately everywhere in the world).

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