Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Distinction: Being Nice

What does it mean to be nice? It seems to me to mean basically that a person follows social conventions with a certain gracefulness, exhibiting socially and biologically attractive qualities. Those socially-attractive qualities are relative to the culture. In our society, they may include independence and personal resolve. The clothes we wear also reflect these qualities and project an image. Biological qualities may be things like confidence and self-sustenance (a form of independence).

Social conventions include mostly the different forms of etiquette as well as colloquial language (and slang). Clothing reflects an aesthetic sense as well as a sense of fashion. Hair, make up, and accessories also complement the image.

Basically, being nice means you fit into this particular culture well by exhibiting the qualities and behaviors that this culture proclaims are positive, good, "wholesome," uplifting, constructive, etc.

But just because you fit in, what does that matter to God? It matters to God only if we think God is nice. But God isn't nice. God commanded the genocide of entire peoples, slew the first born of Egypt, threatens unrepentant sinners with hell, and laughs at the folly of sinners. God wiped out the entire human population, crushed Sodom and Gomorrah, and sent His own people into exile.

But this culture rejects the Biblical God. Then what god does it believe in? What is the god that most people adhere to? Is it the god of nice? Where is this god of nice? Do we worship it? What will it do if we commit heinous crimes? What will it do if we sacrifice all that we have and are in service to others? Does any of it matter?

Therefore the issue must be clarified:

1) What God are we talking about here? The God of the Bible? Or the god of nice? What God is the object of our belief?

Answering this question reveals the trajectory of what follows. In fact, answering this question closes the conversation: if we answer the God of the Bible, the conversation ends because we know what the God of the Bible expects. If we answer the god of nice, then the conversation ends as well because the god of nice accepts everything, tolerates everything, cares about nothing. And if that's what a person believes in, all you can really say is, "Have a nice day then!" After all, if you said, "I'll pray for you," they could just as well say, "That's nice." There is no leading "nice" people to the truth because nice people don't care about the truth. Truth demands sometimes that we not be nice. Truth is a higher standard than niceness. Truth calls us beyond social expectations.

There are some people who reject and rebel against social convention because they see its emptiness. Although there is truth to this perception—social convention is mostly relative and changeable—, it tosses the baby out with the bathwater. After all, not everything that is nice is wrong or evil. Some nice things really are good things. But then again, many people use these nice conventions so emptily that humanity disappears, and when humanity disappears, manifold opportunities open up for mutual manipulation, the politics, the game playing, the lies.

Sadly, most "rebels" end up playing their own game because you can't overcome the game by rebelling against it. That sets off another game. Rebellion is as blind to the truth as niceness is. Only a reflective mind and a magnanimous heart can hear the call of truth and follow it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments ad hominem or deemed offensive by the moderator will be subject to immediate deletion.