When Bad People Do Bad Things to Good People–And Get Away With It

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Last night I finished watching a PBS documentary series, Auschwitz; Inside the Nazi State. It was at times difficult to watch…heartbreaking, horrifying…disturbing. At the same time, it’s important for us to never forget what happened, so we can try, collectively, to ensure that it never happens again. In fact, “Never Again” is a phrase which has become attached to the Holocaust..a reminder to be ever vigilant, and to never again allow such atrocities occur in the world, on a grand scale, such as this. The most horrifying and disturbing portion of the multi-episode documentary was the interviews with the former SS Officers, some of whom reminisced fondly, smiled, and even chuckled with a twinkle in their eye as they tittered on in German about the items they stole from Jews, the awful things that they, and those of their ilk did to other human beings. But, as I mentioned this sort of thing, albeit quite a “downer”, is important to see, to educate ourselves about world history and to stay informed about the realities of what has happened and can happen again–if we let it.

 Of course genocide, as the documentary pointed out, has indeed occurred again in the world since the Holocaust. As it would, naturally, because sometimes bad people do bad things to good people—and get away with it. That is really an oversimplification, of course, because who can judge exactly who is bad and who is simply indifferent? Or who is so damaged or mentally twisted that they do bad things that hurt good, or at least innocent, people who did not deserve what they got? When either of those things happens, the direct victim, and all of us are collateral damage. We have to somehow come to grips with the realities of it all, swallow it down, and go on with our lives.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my grandfather. He’d take me out to lunch, buy me little trinkets at the store, and sit for hours cracking my favorite red painted pistachio nuts, or whole coconuts for me. It was sort of our thing…and come to think of it, he’s actually one of the only people I can remember from my childhood who seemed to think of time spent with me, doing all of those little things just for me, as a joy in his life, not just a necessary chore or a burden. He’d always end up with red fingers from the pistachios, and a glass of coconut “milk” for himself because I only liked the coconut, and the little shell “monkey face” that he’d save for me. My grandfather was a good, kind man who always did the best he could with what he had, and always meant well. He had a lot of things he’d say all the time, that I remember him saying, but one has really stuck with me. He’d say, “It takes all kinds to make a world” True that, Ed Owings, true that…

My grandfather said a wise thing there…simple, but very wise. It does take all kinds to make a world, and some of those kinds are bad people, who do bad things—and get away with it. That last part is the most difficult for me to choke down because I am an individual with a justice oriented personal code of ethics. I like to see the bad guys—and gals, caught, then adequately punished. What adequately punished actually constitutes is unclear, but I’ll know it when I see it. Not all of these bad guys’ and gals’ bad acts rise to the level and scope of the Nazis, to be sure. Nevertheless, there are those who, on a much smaller scale and a daily basis, proceed to tear their way through the world, taking advantage of others, stealing whatever they can for their own gain, hurting good people, humiliating good people for no reason other than the twisted pleasure of watching them suffer, and getting away with it. Or so it seems…These are the folks you want to avoid at all costs and keep away from those you love, but can’t always recognize, at least not until it’s too late. I’ve had to come to grips with a personal situation of this nature recently, and maybe you have dealt with something similar, or unfortunately will at some point in your lifetime.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know one thing for sure. Somehow we all have to live with those realities, and the knowledge that there is no satisfactory resolution, or punishment doled out in this lifetime for what has been done, and all of the collateral damage that is left in its wake, including our own frustrated emotions. Sometimes the best we can do is to spend our time rebuilding our lives as best we can, without all those pieces to the puzzle of the great meaning of it all, or even to that simple unanswered question—Why? We can take comfort in our faiths, in the knowing that there is a Higher Power watching it all unfold, and that justice will be served, if not in this life, then certainly the next. And we can work tirelessly to see that justice is served here on earth, that wrongs be righted, and that we ourselves remain on the side of good, hopefully tipping that great cosmic scale back to the good side again. But, in the end, we all have to find our own way to, as four iconic voices put it so simply and eloquently….Let It Be…

 

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