Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When Bad Things Happen to People Who Really Deserve It

So of course we're still reeling from the deaths of these high school students.  How could we not be?  And they seemed to be such good kids.

A friend of mine consoled me with a text:  Bad things really do happen to good people.  And I thought, well, yes.  We'd all like it to be different, because then we could stick ourselves and our loved ones firmly on the side of the Good People, and nothing bad would ever happen to us.  If bad things only happened to bad people, that would be awesome.

Except, the more I think on it, the less qualified I feel to decide who is or isn't a bad person.  Have you ever heard of a "bad" six-year-old?  An undisciplined one, sure.  A pain in the neck.  But bad?

A college friend of mine is principal at an elementary school on a Native American Reservation out west.  Poverty and despair are her students' close companions.  Yesterday she had to work with the local sheriff to find somewhere safe for one of her six-year-olds to go--the child's father was long gone, and mom was out getting roaring drunk instead of picking her child up from school. 

What sort of damage is being done to this child?  What will be the result?  In ten years, will people say, "that's a bad kid," instead of "that's a kid who's been through hell?"

Earlier this week I tried to console my daughter with a quote from Winston Churchill:  "when you're going through hell, keep going."  She said, without irony, "Yeah, I've pretty much heard the same thing from a country-western song."

Bad things happen to people.  Oh, how it hurts.