Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Trouble with “Nice”

There is a word in the English language which often evokes in me a response not generally expected among members of the general population: Nice.

“Have a nice day,” people say, as if warning each other of dire consequences if the advice is not heeded.

Nice girls, our parents always lectured us young daughters, were the preferred role models.

The Nice Life, lauded as if it were the true intention of the philosopher’s “Good Life,” has become the icon of the Western middle class (and all those who would enter therein), courtesy of pervasive television programming and other all-encompassing communications media.

Sometimes Nice has just gotten too nice to be. It has morphed into life in a vacuum, where nothing happens—well, at least nothing that isn’t Nice—where everyone lives happily ever after, with no worries. For those with the last word, that translates into no hospital bills, no pension shortfalls, no lack of money for food, clothing, housing, or any other conceivable human need. Even no need to work to supply those needs. And while we are adding to this Nice dream list, why not insert no illness and no death? After all, it is within the human potential to attain anything for which we dream, isn’t it?

What happens to people when they have too Nice a life? Is it possible that such an ideal could exist?

“That would be Nice,” I keep waiting to hear someone quip.

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