This has been on my mind of late because of the kerfluffle about common core and fact vs opinion, so republishing it from Catholic Stand.
“Be nice.” “That’s not nice.” “Wouldn’t it be nice if people would just get along?”
Nice is almost as hard to define as the notoriously subjective “fair,” but I’m starting to think it’s far more dangerous. ‘Nice’ is applied to a standard of behavior that does not raise objection among those who are around to be offended; ‘nice’ is a sort of vague version of ‘polite,’ centered around everyone feeling good.
Most obviously, I’m sure anybody that’s stumbled on to this site has at least heard someone say “I’m not very religious, but I try to be a nice person– and that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?” Those of us who have argued theology have almost surely heard “Well, we disagree about that– but we agree that people should just be nice to each other, and that’s the important thing.”