A friend said, “Agreeableness will cost our people more souls than contention.”  Could he be right?  I can’t say that he’s wrong.

I believe people should be nice to each other.  For many saints, however, that principle is the brass ring through their nose by which they are led around.

Captain Moroni was not nice.  But was he contentious?  Contention is of the devil.  If all men were like Captain Moroni, the foundations of hell would be shaken. Captain Moroni was therefore never contentious.

Jesus whipped the moneychangers in the temple after throwing over their tables.  Was he nice?  In 3 Nephi 9 he literally burned cities full of people and buried others alive.  Was  he nice?  Ha, clearly not.  He wasn’t contentious either.  Because contention is of the devil.

What is being nice? Why is it often a good thing and often so dangerous?

Being nice is trying to avoid friction in the present. It is paying attention to other people’s current feelings and trying to accommodate them. It is trying for cooperate-cooperate equilibriums in social interactions.

Good. People should be nice to each other.

Except, you can’t reliably get cooperation if you aren’t willing to resist defectors. In this sense, being nice is the vice of shirking your duties.

You can’t accommodate people’s feelings if their feelings are run mad or if they are deliberately using their feelings to control you. Iin this sense, being nice is the vice of making an idol of your own gullibility.

You can’t avoid friction with sin and error. In this sense, being nice is the vice of cowardice and sloth.

Niceness is acting small.  A virtue for an elephant, a vice for all the smaller creatures that need to grow.

Niceness is avoiding conflict. A virtue for the strong, timidity for those who need to strengthen.

Niceness is what parents want from their children.  Or, in other words, what rulers want from their subjects.  Children need to grow up.

Niceness is too often just the veil we use to cover our naked conformity and our naked submission to the bully.

We all know with ourselves that it is important to work on what our body and soul tells us what our current desires are. Asceticism for asceticism sake is folly. We also all know that we can’t always give way to our current desires without miring ourselves in a disaster. With ourselves, we manage the balance of being nice to ourselves and not being nice to ourselves very well.

Then we come to others, and we throw out all that wisdom. We act like its just our job to accommodate what they want, or say they want, right here and right now.

A lion had a thorn in his paw and was sucking on it in his distress. One mouse urged another mouse, his friend, who was stronger and fleeter, to go pull it out. “Oh, no,” said the second mouse. “I shouldn’t put myself above everyone else like that. And what if the lion doesn’t want the thorn out? What if it would hurt him to pull it?”

Love conquers all. It tramples niceness and all other imitations and enemies under its feet.

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