Nice People Do a Lot of Damage

Nice People Do a Lot of Damage By DENNIS PRAGER for The Stream

It can be said that gaining wisdom is a process of gaining some dark insights into life.

One such insight is this: A lot of evil has been abetted by nice people.

By “nice,” I am referring to the way people comport themselves in the personal realm. We refer to people as being “nice” if they are friendly to strangers, more or less honest in their dealings with others, take care of their families, support friends and are pleasant to be around. We all want nice neighbors.

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To put it another way, “nice” generally refers to the micro, the personal, realm. It does not generally refer to the macro realm — that is, to the views and values people hold about moral and social questions.

Two Moral Components

The human being is composed of two moral components — the micro and the macro. In a truly good human being — “good” is not the same as “nice” — one is good in both realms. It is therefore quite possible to be nice in the micro and hold awful values for society; and it is quite possible to have excellent macro values and not be a particularly nice person.

Take communism, for example.


Communist regimes killed some 100 million people in the 20th century — none of them combatants in war. Add to that number more than a billion devastated lives: the friends and family of the murdered, the generations deprived of elementary human rights and the countless number of innocent people imprisoned and tortured, and you have as pure an evil as is imaginable.

You might therefore think that no one who supported communism, let alone was a member of a communist party anywhere in the world, was a nice person. But you would be wrong. There were many nice people who supported communism. There were even nice people among the Westerners who provided Josef Stalin with the secrets to making an atom bomb.

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