This post contains an affiliate link.
Twenty years ago, I sat in a nursing school classroom listening to our Psych Nursing instructor talk about a book called, “When Bad Things Happen To Good People”. I never read the book. We didn’t have internet or Amazon to fulfill our every wish back then, plus I was a very broke college student going back to school for my second degree and paying for groceries and rent ranked much higher than reading a book that wasn’t required for school. But I never forgot the title because it was one of the most apt phrases I had ever heard.
When bad things happen to good people.
That innocent phrase says it all, doesn’t it?
It makes you stop and think.
It makes you realize that sometimes innocent people, good people, have bad things happen to them, whether it’s having a child born with a chronic disease, losing a loved one in a car wreck, a young mom being diagnosed with breast cancer, being massacred while dancing in a nightclub, or God forbid, having an alligator snatch your child off the beach of a famous resort. Bad things do happen to good people.
Did they deserve these bad things?
Were they doing anything different than hundreds or thousands, or even millions of other people?
Were they driving recklessly or were the roads wet and slippery when the accident occurred?
Did the young mom diagnosed with cancer eat a diet full of processed food? Did she smoke? Not exercise? Or was she super health conscience and she did everything right? How does that differ from millions of other moms around the world who do the same things but are never diagnosed with cancer?
How about going to a nightclub to dance and be around people who accept you as you are? Were they at fault because they were gay or Latino?
How about the poor mom whose child was running and playing on the beach before going into the shallow water? Thousands of other kids have done the same without being attacked by an alligator. Is she to blame for the death of her child?
For the accident that happened?
When bad things happen to good people…
When accidents like this happen why are we so quick to take sides? To judge? To share our opinions so loudly and vociferously? Why do we argue with strangers online over opinions that shouldn’t matter in the first place. How has our society degenerated to this? And more importantly, how can we change how our society’s views on things?
When bad things happen to good people, we need to be there to support and comfort them. To sit quietly by their side, to hold their hand, to bring them food not only immediately after the accident, but for years to come, because this accident, which you quickly and vehemently remarked on, but just as quickly will forget, will be these good people’s new reality for the rest of their lives. One which they will never be able to forget.
When bad things happen to good people, we need to close our mouths and open our hearts. Is that really so hard for us to do? That’s basic humanity people.
Stop fighting with strangers online.
Stop. Stop. Stop.
Just stop it.
If you’re not helping, then you’re hurting…
Years ago, when our boys were very young, had many sensory issues and were on a very strict diet, it was hard to go out to eat. A new restaurant in town served gluten free pizza which the boys loved. We went there weekly and often had the same server. He was a college student who took the time to get to know not only us, but also our boys. Why is this important? At the time, many “friends” had distanced themselves from us because our boys were too intense to be around, but this stranger took the boys’ quirkiness and intensity in stride. He wasn’t just a server to us. He became a friendly, welcoming face when so many of our “friends” were no longer welcoming.
That year our football team made it to the playoffs, and this young man went to Atlanta with his friends to attend the game. As he was jumping around, high fiving with his friends after a great play, he fell over the stadium rail to his death.
A horrible accident.
A young life gone too soon.
And just like all of these other cases I’ve listed above, online comments started flying.
He’d been drinking.
He was a dumb drunk who got what he deserved.
And on and on and on.
But you see, he wasn’t. He was very mature and very responsible and very kind, but instead of reading those things primarily, his younger sister got to read the comments from the lynch mob. And that, my friends, is what she will always remember.
And what will I never forget?
Her anguished pleas begging strangers to leave her and her family alone so they could grieve.
Think before you write. Your words have a bigger impact than you know.
Words to live by…
The next time you read an article about when bad things happen to good people, take a moment to think about the suffering that is already going on. Take a moment to think about the long lasting impact of your words. Take a moment to think about whether or not you are commenting for purely selfish reasons. Are you commenting to hear your own voice? Do you think your opinion matters more than others so you feel the need to argue louder? Do you believe your opinions will alter the opinions of others?
I have a few sayings that I repeat frequently for the boys’ benefit. They’re common sense and quite simple, but common sense seems to be sorely lacking nowadays or maybe it’s just good manners that are lacking. Anyway, here are our household rules:
If you wouldn’t say it to my face, then don’t write it in a text or comment on social media.
Treat others like you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want someone saying or doing that to you, then don’t say or do it to someone else.
Be kind always. There’s really no excuse for you to be anything different.
If you’re not helping, then you’re hurting… There’s a time and a place to debate most things, and by all means I want my kids to question things, but I want them to do it in a respectful manner at an appropriate time. Online, after a tragic accident has occurred, is not the correct place. Ever.
Remember bad things can happen to good people. It doesn’t mean these folks were being neglectful or were at fault. Have some grace and just be nice. I know it’s easy to fall into the gang mentality of “if they can give their opinion, then I can, too!”, but please just think before you write. Our country is already so divided and these online, hateful, hurtful arguments aren’t helping any.