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Bad Things

By H.G. Miller

I can remember being a small child and wondering why it was bad things happened. Why did kids tease me about my overbite? Why did it hurt so much to be stung by a bee? Why did our dog run away?

As I got older, the situations changed, but the questions remained. Why did grandma have to die? Why did my car get broken into? Why did bad things happen?

A few months ago, a teenage boy was shot to death in a drive-by a block away from where I pick up my morning paper. The closest I've ever been to violent death, and I couldn't even begin to fathom how somebody finds it in themselves to take the life of another.

And, the bad things keep happening.

So, now there are helicopters circling overhead. An occasional happening when one has to live in the kind of neighborhood that I can afford. But, this time, they're following somebody for a different kind of crime.

According to the police cruiser trolling by afterwards, it was a hate-crime suspect. A man attacking some of the local Arab population. My neighbors. People being retaliated against for a crime they had nothing to do with. A crime perpetrated by people they were getting away from by moving to the United States in the first place.

Why is it when bad things happen, they always seem to get worse?

My belief system is pretty simple:

1.) Killing people is wrong. Period.

2.) Disliking people and treating them unfairly for something they have no control over (i.e. skin color, nationality, overbites and tastes in fashion) is wrong. The only possible exception being people who consider techno music to be artistic. They are only harming themselves and I think that the only possible cure for this malady is a massive re-education effort.

See that, I'm trying to keep this light.

3.) I don't believe in organized religion. For that matter, I don't really have a taste for anything that claims half the world to be wrong and therefore damned to hell in the afterlife.

4.) I do believe in God.

5.) No, he doesn't talk to me. But I'd like to imagine that if he ever did, he would keep the conversation light, assure me that the Kansas City Royals will someday play over-five-hundred baseball, and ask that I call him something a little more informal, like George.

The list keeps going, but the basic gist of it centers around taking the time to realize that life is precious and amazing and that despite the bad things that will continue to happen, we have an obligation as an enlightened society to educate ourselves about our world and to weigh that knowledge heavily when deciding upon things such as who to hate and how to harm them.

I am not wholly a pacifist. I am angry at the tragic death of an untold number of people in New York this week. I can fathom even less the ability of nineteen people to take their own lives in order to destroy the lives of thousands. I will not be sad when their superiors are found and punished by blazing fire for these sins.

However, the impending fireworks show aside, I wish more for compassion among our own people. “Our own people” being defined as anyone who has come to the United States in order to find a better life. I am not ignorant to the fact that at some point my father's fathers migrated from someplace that was not here.

The world isn't an easy place to live sometimes, and bad things will continue to happen. We need to stick together during all of this. We need to realize that the word “American” encompasses a lot of people, a lot of religions and a lot of nationalities. And we're all trying to deal with this.

My neighbors are good people. They put out food for a stray cat. They get my mail when I'm out of town. And, they agree with me whole-heartedly about the techno thing.