When I was in high school, this was a burning question having sexual implications.  Nice girls were virgins.  Good girls were not. 

Now that we’re (hopefully) past considering the significance of someone’s virginity, there’s a whole new world about the difference between being a good person and being a nice person, especially when weighing these characteristics against evil. 

Before I tell you what my research has uncovered, let’s start with a quick quiz. Answer A or B:

(A) The approval of others matters to you; or (B) You value personal growth over public perception.

(A) You are able to gloss over issues in order to keep the peace; or (B) You speak your truth irrespective of the consequences.

(A)  You struggle with criticism; or (B) You equate criticism with growth.

(A)  You prefer to keep your social connections at a surface level; or (B) Your relationships are based on solid principles.

The unscientific results to my unscientific quiz are:  if you answered mostly (A), you are a nice person.  If you answered mostly (B), you are a good person.

What does this all mean?  I have no idea.  I think we’re all sometimes good, sometimes nice, sometimes both good and nice, and sometimes neither.  

Why is this interesting to me?  Again, I have no idea.  

Perhaps my underlying purpose in pondering this question is to attempt to reconcile the inherent good (or nice) in some people with the inherent bad (or evil) in others.  Are all people born good, but some become evil?  Why? What are the triggers?  And more significantly, are some people evil, or do some people do evil things?

It seems that every day, I’m reading about shootings or stabbings, and shockingly cruel abuse of women, children, seniors, animals, and the homeless.  If humanity is inherently good but circumstances cause us to make bad choices, there’s no way we can lump everything into the category of mental illness.  It’s certainly a slice, but not necessarily the whole pie.

I think spirituality enters into this as well.  Some of us consider karma, or “what would Jesus do?” when deciding whether to turn in the wallet with $100 cash and four credit cards.  We may ponder whether to keep the cash and then turn the wallet in to the lost and found, and that decision-making process may result in a delicate balance of being a good person, or a nice person, or a jerk.  Or maybe a little bit of all three.

My parents taught me that if I did the right thing, and to be considerate of others (even at the expense of myself), then there would be no negative consequence as a result of my actions.  As an adult, I find that I definitely have better impulse control than I did as a child. And I’m extremely thankful for those life lessons taught to me by my parents.

I guess that makes me a good person.  Or a nice person.  At least, most of the time . . .