Ze: One refers to a person with ze typically (a) when their gender is unknown, and one wishes to avoid assuming their gender, or (b) when they are neither male nor female in gender, making he and she (and also either/or terms like s/he or (s)he) inappropriate and potentially hurtful.
I had a friend back in Secondary school who found a scrap bit of paper in the classroom bin. It dictated a conversation between two unknown individuals – what with the famed 00s’ coloured gel inks – with a special shoutout to “Tish the class b*tch”, who had the “gall to refer to herself as the future Miss Universe.”
Yes, this really happened. But I was 14 and ambitious, pre-realisation of my passion of being a writer, and not just a pretty face.
This particular friend kept this bit of paper and showed it to me when the bell rang, right as we were making our way out of the school gates, escaping to weekend ahead. I peered at the piece of paper, feeling my heart sink and grow weary with the weight of the gossip. This conversation played on my mind for the rest of what was supposed to be a great weekend, taunting me with the opinions of others and making me feel demoralized.
This isn’t the first bit of gossip I’ve encountered, and standing here a gal at 20-something, I can tell you that it definitely wasn’t the last.
In tears, I went home and showed my mother the crumpled piece of blasphemous trash. She looked at me and said something I didn’t expect:
“What kind of friend would show this to another friend? If ze really were a good friend, wouldn’t ze leave this in the bin and give you the peace of mind knowing that you’re better off without this nonsense?”
This was a lesson that resonated in me. From then on, I classified my friends as such: Good friends told the truth, yet kept the nonsense at bay. Other ‘friends’, well, they weren’t friends to begin with.
Very recently, I faced the exact same situation, re-hashed.
I was enjoying my Good Friday/Easter holiday when I received word of some bad news. The news is irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make, but it was such similar actions that reminded me so strongly of the incident I encountered as a child.
A bystander who witnessed this unfortunate incident took it upon zeself to document the situation and interrupt my Good Friday holiday by giving me a call to ‘update’ me on this bit of bad news, along with zis speculations on the matter.
Words like “probably your fault” and “blamed for it” were words that were casually thrown around during the call.
Never-mind that I was in the middle of mass at church, or the fact that I didn’t have any idea what ze was talking about, or the fact that it ultimately wasn’t my decision to seal the fate of this unfortunate event. Still, ze felt the cruel need to dump zis speculations onto my plate with a side order of guilt.
Why ze felt the strongest need to put me on the spot by telling me that I was most probably the cause of something immensely disastrous, I have no idea. But I remembered what I faced as a child, and shook it off. No way I was going to bend myself backwards to engage in this crap.
The world doesn’t need more nice people. It needs good ones.
There’s a distinct difference, I’ll tell you how:
Nice people tend to lie when it comes to the hard truths, skirting around issues with euphemisms and half-assed sincerities. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Nice people tell you that you don’t need to lose weight and that you’re beautiful the way you are, then calls you Fitness Last behind your back. Nice people tell you that the Apple Watch is a MARVELLOUS investment, but secretly believes that it’s basically a staggeringly overpriced pager. This one I have to agree.
Good people may reserve the truth, but they don’t lie.
Good people may judge, but refrain from speculating half-truths.
Good people may assume, but withhold brazen discrimination.
Good people clarify, not confront.
Good people don’t just ‘leave situations be’, but rather think over their actions before acting upon them.
Don’t be a nice person, be a good one.