Tim Wise on “Nice”

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”To be nice is to have an emotional stake in the prevention of one’s own pain”. It doesn’t sound so moral or admirab;e put that accurate way, does it? To look good, to feel good, to avoid pain or risk – none of it amounts to avoiding moral damnation, does it?

Voices from Russia

01 Hypocrisy Meter


Nice people change nothing. They never have and they never will. Those who are nice are so invested in their niceness, in their sense of propriety and civility, that they rarely raise their voices above a whisper, even in the face of sweltering oppression. Nice white people were the ones who didn’t own black folks during the period of enslavement, but also didn’t raise their voices against the ones who did. Nice white people are the ones who didn’t spit on sit-in demonstrators, but also had no problem spending money with businesses that had remained segregated all those years.

To be nice is to have an emotional stake in the prevention of one’s own pain. Nice people don’t like to look at the ugly. It’s upsetting, most of all because it puts us on the hook and calls forth our humanity to actually put an end to that pain…

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  1. I don’t agree. Giving people license to be scabrous and contentious is what develops hostile work environments and road rage. There are nice ways of doing things that are effective. If anyone feels smothered or oppressed then they need to relabel “that” because it is not being nice. If they were being nice it would feel good.


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