On Goodness and Niceness

“It makes him hard to get along with,” Mrs. Bowman was saying. “But I suppose it’s more important to be good than to be nice.”

“I strongly disagree,” Mr. Magundi interrupted. “Anyone who believes that being nice is the most important thing will exercise every Christian virtue in trying to make things pleasant for the people around him. Anyone who believes that being good trumps being nice is capable of any iniquity for the sake of his own inflexible idea of what’s good. ‘It’s more important to be good than to be nice’ neatly summarizes the beliefs of Pol Pot, of Robespierre, of nearly every terrorist there ever was; and I’m sure that, translated into Latin, it was the official motto of the Spanish Inquisition. All the misery in the world is caused by people hell-bent on being good at all costs.”

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