Saturday, March 26, 2011


Let me say it bluntly: it takes great effort to be polite to people you categorically do not like.

For one thing, great energy is required in order to put on a decent face that comes closest to politeness when you are compelled to be with someone who you would rather not be in the same room ... or the same form of shelter ... even the same road, the same city ... all right, maybe at best ... the same planet.  

But then there are still laws of civility to observe.  These are manners that have to be practiced if only to abide by what has been carved on stone about requirements of social survival.  And because of that, you realize that you are indulging in a tedious social ritual. You are not necessarily being true to yourself but merely fulfilling norms and expectations.

This is called the art of being "nice".  It can also be called the practice of being an "everyday hypocrite" --- for the sake of peace on earth and the brotherhood of man.

You see, there are three kinds of people you meet in a lifetime.

There are those priceless treasures that come into your life to prove that --- yes, there is a God.  These are the people who you realize you cannot live without, people who have changed your life as you grapple with the thought that the years that came before were so empty because they were not part of your existence.  They are people who walked through the revolving doors and have become constants.  They are people who define who you were, who you are as well as the possibilities of what is yet to transpire.

They are people who you choose to be a part of you. These are the people who you have decided to love.

Then, of course, there are people who are there out of need or circumstance but definitely not out of your choice.  They are incidentals --- they are peripheral.  But since they have to be there, you have no choice but to accept that they must be around you. And the least you can do is to be nice to them, right?

After all, that is what is expected.

These are the individuals who you would casually call "friends" because you are required to be with them ever so often.  They become "friends" out of frequency rather than quality.  They are the people who you have to talk to, sit with, exchange inane anecdotes, swap jokes, attempt at concern. They are the people you share take-out snacks, even spend time at Starbucks or send a text messages to greet on birthdays and group text messages for Christmas and New Year.

They are the people who you do not find important enough to remember the name of their children, their birthdays (not unless they have been registered in your Blackberry) or even their phone numbers (not unless they too are on Speed Dial).

These are the people you act excited to have photos taken from cell phones during annual parties, outings and even spontaneous moments when you are celebrating transitory fun.  These are acquaintances who can eventually graduate into being authentic friends by some twist of fate or the other ... but, more often than not, are limited to the work place or because they are friends of friends.

Well, these are also the people who you work with, deal with and practice all forms of civility.  In other words, they are the creatures you are compelled to show niceness mainly because you have to do so and there is really nothing wrong with that.  You practice good conduct and right manners out of respect ... but you sort of figure out that one day too soon, you have to part ways and you cannot really give a s--t if he decides to gather his entire family to Siberia for permanent migration.

And then there is the worst case of all possible scenarios: people who you do not like. Period.

Yeah, yeah, yeah: feed me with all that talk about the natural goodness in man in spite, despite and because of what you see.  Tell me about that universal credo exalting the ties that bind all of us regardless of color and creed and preference for hamburgers.  But let us be downright honest in admitting that despite all our efforts to literally love everybody, there are just some people we do not want to have anything to do with.

I do not exactly call it contempt.  Not even prejudice.  Maybe I am being judgmental.  Perhaps that is the case and I know that is bad. But then again I tell myself that I am only human. Inasmuch as I want to be Christ-like ... or even like Gandhi ... or Mother Teresa ... I am sure even they felt the same way about some people who you would rather keep at a distance of one hundred fifty feet away from you.

We do not necessarily look for them but there are some people who rub you the wrong way.  Maybe they haven't even done anything particular against us ... but there is just something about them that automatically turns on some Keep Away From Me-button deep inside our system. 

I try to rationalize this in most absurd fashion possible.  Could it possibly be the incompatibility of our astrological signs? After all, I am a Wood Horse Libra on the cusp of being a Scorpio ... so maybe there is something about him/her brought about by the configuration of stars responsible for this seemingly unexplainable enmity.  Whatever.  Or perhaps it has got to do with instinct, something that taps into the unconscious ... even perhaps triggered by some strange olfactory sensation.

Regardless of choice of words or explanation, the fact remains: there are people you do not like even if you have no concrete reasons to feel this way.  And, more often than not, given the chance ... and opportunity, you can find a way of rationalizing a pre-conceived notion, a hunch ... that said creature is really a rectum that has assumed its own independent life-form.  It is only a matter of time to discover why you never liked the person right from the very start.

But what is worse is having to be nice to this person!

I do not think it will be considered rational behavior to tell someone that you do not like him/her just because your birth signs clash ...or that your feng shui consultant suggested you avoid all Dogs and Rabbits this year.  Or that you suspect that he/she is such a fake that his/her entire existence is non-biodegradable.  Such presumptions are subject to --- uh, therapy.  But then how else can you pinpoint how you feel especially when you are compelled to be nice to this person.

The most logical thing is to avoid. Or keep a distance. Distance means the accepted standard safety zone for germ carriers such as those with SARS, the Ebola Virus or even the rejuvenated and reconstituted version of the Bubonic Plague.  Distance means flashing perfunctory smiles, awarding token pleasantries graduating from obligatory hi's and hellos to even how are yous ... and even discussing the traffic and the weather. In other words, distance means having all the intimacy of a mortician to a corpse.

But still ... the effort is herculean.  The energy invested is tantamount to wasted ... just because you want to act civilized and polite... while realizing you are practicing Hypocrisy 101.

There should be a better way in handling this although I have also come to realize that the other party may feel exactly the same way about me. Or that there are others who also smile and act nice to my face despite the fact that they would rather see me skewered in the barbecue pits of hell.  So it doesn't really matter.

Perhaps the best way to rationalize this feeling is that ... this is the way of the polite and genteel world.

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