But what if niceness is not just vague but destructive? What if niceness is just an excuse for selfishness? What if being nice to groups seen as marginalized is actually hurting them?
These thoughts arise from an argument made by Peter Augustine Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College, in the new edition of National Affairs. Lawler sees the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton contest as in large part a tale of the brutish against the nice. Many a Clinton voter would enthusiastically agree. But while the dangers of brutish thinking are obvious, Lawler points out that there is also good reason for niceness to be rejected by Americans in large parts of the country.
Niceness isn’t really a virtue, Lawler says. It’s more of a cop-out, a moral shrug. “A nice person won’t fight for you,”
Buddhism tends to be something of a pacifistic religion, of accepting suffering rather than going out to fix it. Which is a fine thing as far as it goes. It is an excellent partial answer to the human condition. But there has never been must justice in countries where it is strong. Niceness has a cost.
Note also the deadliest wars are primarily Asian. (WWII deaths were 75% in Asia; Conquest of the Americas was largely by disease.)