prior to the most recent school shooting, i began reading mr. harold s. kushner’s “when bad things happen to good people.” while some books, you can stop and discuss a segment of the book, mr. kusher takes the reader on a quest to find answers. as such, one must reach his conclusions before being critical.
mr. kushner’s journey began with the knowledge that his son aaron had an incurable disease and that he would die young. mr. kushner furthers down the path with experiences of when, in his capacity of clergy, he was confronted with bad things happening to good people. to this, he offers stories of parents losing their young children in accidents.
there is a fundamental problem with the book. “who had the bad thing happen to them?” this is critical to the analysis. in my opinion, for mr. kushner, it was his son who had the bad thing happen. likewise, the young child that died in a car accident was the person who had the bad thing happen to them. mr. kushner places himself and the parents as the focus. human beings, due to tremendous egos, naturally focus on themselves. everything is about us. mr. kushner focuses, in a large part, on the psyche of those who shared the bad thing.
mr. kushner’s personal situation with his son provided him time. with the knowledge of the medical condition, the family could have committed to make aaron’s limited time on the planet to be exceptional. all those contibuting to his happiness could feel some goodness when the eventual sadness would occur. this concept is recognized within the society, i.e. the make a wish foundation. while the book discusses others’ positive interactions with his son, i.e. classmates, there is little if any discussion of employing a proactive approach to the most difficult of times.
beyond the bad things that occur over time, spontaneous tragedies also give rise to a proactive approach on life. everyday one should appreciate life’s frailty. every day is a blessing. as such, one should steer themselves towards positive and uplifting interactions with their loved ones and others.
no one wants to live their lives with regrets. an excellent movie on this topic is “reign on me.” adam sandler gives a masterful performance of an individual whose life is consumed by regrets.
over the years, as my aunts and uncles got older, i developed an obsession with hospital visits. their hospitizations took on more meaning. there were opportunities to visit and lend support as they saw their lives passing. my brother and i had to reach out and encourage others who were hesitant to make the visit to show respect and honor.
the proactivity extended beyond hospitalization. with one uncle, who had received a fatal diagnosis, while he was well, we took him out to dinner to express our appreciation for him being such a great uncle. he was perplexed by our expression. being such a generous person his whole life, he was taken aback that loved ones would share a moment of pure appreciation for his decades of goodness.
this hospital obsession bled over to my professional career. as soon as i hear that one of my staff’s loved ones is in the hospital and their life was in the balance, i insist that they leave work and make a visit. during the course of business, i insist that matter be continued so that others can leave and make a visit.
another criticism of mr. kushner is his opinion on god. he opines that specifically that he does not believe that god causes mental retardation in children. this passage, i contend, is contradicted in scripture. god, in talking to moses, takes credit for creating all times of people including the deaf, dumb and blind. in otherwords, god accepts accountability for all human beings. there are no mistakes. if they were mistakes, the societal consequences would be the promotion of euthanasia. the master of the universe took moses, a person with a speech impairment, to be his spokesman is a loud and clear declaration that the impaired have an important role in the world. as a baby, moses could have easily been tossed aside by pharoah’s daughter when she realized he had this problem. her kindness to her adopted child projects an eternal message of compassion.
in the end, mr. kushner offers solid advice that god offers a source of strength for people to both overcome and move one from bad things happening. while this is good, god offers humans the power, the intellect, and scripture to proactively address bad things from happening. certainly, we are all aware that every human being will have one certain bad thing happen to them. as such, everyday is a blessing for which there should be gratitude towards the master of the universe. this is perhaps the only way that one does not feel cheated in life. loving and being appreciative of every moment is perhaps the key to softening the blow when bad things happen.