The question is asked often about whether it’s possible to “Nice” or “Hiking”. The answer depends largely on who you ask. For the purposes of this article both terms are used interchangeably and both have a considerable amount of meaning to the hiking enthusiast.
The word “nice” originates from Old French and means “pleasant”. It was used as a synonym for “polished, refined, pleated”. In fact it is one of only two words in the English Language that can be used to describe someone as “very nice” (also the other word being “foolish or ignorant”). The etymology of the word indicates that it may have been derived from a combination of two words.
The etymology of “nice” also shows that it came into play during the middle ages in a negative sense. Theologians and church fathers considered “nice” to be something inferior, or, in their opinion, wicked. Hence, “nice” was a badge of slavery and, for that reason, was worn by the poor in olden days. The origin of “nice” is therefore linked with poverty. (And this link has endured throughout the years in spite of efforts to eradicate poverty).
So if “nice” is a description of very poor qualities then what is it really? It seems that the etymology of “nice” must refer to a type of foolishness. We know that foolishness is not attractive and indeed it is an impediment to happiness. Hiking is, after all, a pleasurable activity which involves moving around, being active, interacting with others and so being in contact with the world in all its forms.
Thus “nice” is a description of someone who is a loser, a dork, a phony, someone without principles, someone lacking intellect, someone with a shallow educational background, someone without any self-respect, someone who lacks dignity, a wimp, a silly fellow. And these are people who will wear the “shirts” with the “ties” which were originally designed for the clergy. These are people who will call themselves “nice”, will act like “nice guys”, listen to the “love songs” which have the same word content as the rock n roll hits of their time and who will behave in a very effeminate way. And the real beauty of this whole sorry story is that in the whole episode, nice guys finish last, just as they did in the good ole’ days when men were supposed to be “nice”. They are the ones who end up getting hurt, right?
So the lesson to be learnt here is that if we want our society to become more civilized, if we want our human race to become more civilized, then we need to take a good look in the mirror and we need to ask ourselves why we are all so nasty. Maybe we should start by giving a little thought to the social care programs which are targeted to improve outcomes for those who are mean spirited, uneducated and lacking self-respect. Instead of being nice, maybe we should just be ourselves. And after that, maybe we should just stop pretending to be nice, because it’s not working, and it’s not adding value to anyone’s life.