Back in 1985 or 1986 I read an essay in BYU Magazine by Elouise Bell titled, "When Nice Ain't So Nice." It took me several tries before I could get through it. It was hitting me very close to home, and made me very uncomfortable. You see, I prided myself in being a Nice Guy. You can read a later version at the link above. But there are parts I want to point out which I missed all those years ago:
"Niceness begins in the home; it is taught as a prime doctrine of the “poisonous pedagogy” Alice Miller exposes. Miller, a brilliant Swiss psychologist whose work is assuming major proportions in the field, has traced much neurosis to the philosophy, dominant throughout most of this century, that the role of the child is to be docile, obedient, and subservient to the parent, whose word is law. The “poisonous pedagogy” teaches children, in other words, to be “nice.” It demands that children not resist the status quo, not take any direct action against whatever injustices are going down. Thus it indirectly but inevitably encourages covert action, manipulation, passive-aggression, duplicity, and denial. (My mother used to say in so many words: “Be nice. Don’t argue with your father. Agree with him, and then slip out the back door and do what you want, like your brothers do.” She also said to me with a simper: “Your father is the head of the home, remember that. And I’m the neck that moves the head!” My response to such advice was often a single, very un-nice word.)"
I was struck by the similarity of the cause and effect between Niceness and the emergence, as I understand it, of the False Self.
The author goes on:
You’ve heard of the Nicene Creed, the Christian confession of faith first adopted in 325? Now hear the Nice Creed:
We believe in being Nice,
in speaking softly at all times,
even when loud objection may be
more logical;in saying nothing in
response to minor
inconveniences such as
being jostled on a bus,
or relegated to a back seat,
or not being allowed to ride at all,
or being run over by the bus;
and in saying even the most
appalling things in soft,
non-committal tones, even,
if worst comes to the worst,
We guard against silence as against
speaking out, for in silence is
Thought born; therefore, we
cultivate and foster small talk,
which says naught yet smothers
We believe that pleasantries are
better than truths, friendliness
better than honor, jocularity
better than Justice.
We believe that neatness is the end
of logic and cleanliness the
epitome of order.
And we most devoutly believe in
seeing nothing that is
We believe in turning the other head,
closing the other eye,
stopping the other ear,
and biting the other tongue.