The good, the bad and the icy

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Posted 2/02/16 (Tue)

What A Joke
By John Bayer

I’ve noticed that when something negative occurs, people respond in one of two ways. If the terrible thing happens to someone we don’t particularly like, we shrug our shoulders and say, “that’s karma.” But when something bad happens to us, we rend our clothes and scream dumbfounded, “Why God, why?”
When tragedy hits other people, it seems perfectly reasonable; but when I stub my toe, I’m quick to run down to the library and check out, “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?” (In researching this column, I found six different books by that title.) 
When I was in North Dakota during the winter of 2012/2013, I was asking myself a different question altogether. I had met so many wonderful, friendly, giving people here; and yet God seemed to be punishing them (and me) with a ceaseless nuclear winter. As I plodded to work each day through 30 (or so) feet of snow, I asked the question, “Why does North Dakota happen to good people?”
Imagine my surprise on coming back this year and experiencing sunny skies and 40 degree temperatures in January! As I walked along Main Street the other morning, I looked down at the sidewalk wet with melted snow. Such good weather, I thought.
Apparently some of the sidewalk hadn’t gotten the memo that it was 35 degrees out. My foot hit an icy patch and I went crashing to the ground. “Why must good weather happen to good people?”
Throughout my first long winter in North Dakota – the Snowmaggedon – I suffered a lot, but somehow I managed to stay upright the entire time. This time around, I’ve biffed it in under three weeks. 
I come to you today a broken man – shattered confidence, bruised ego, and perhaps a fractured rib or two. “Why do bad things happen to good Johns?”
The problem with these questions, of course, is that situations are seldom wholly good or bad. A winter warm up is good in that I get to put away the parka for awhile. But it also transforms all of the snow into a citywide ice skating rink – which is bad.
The same holds true for people. Each of us is a mix of good and bad. That knowledge should cause us to treat each other with more grace. Even when we are wronged, we know there is still good inside that person. 
By the same token though, we might be more cautious when someone does good for us, knowing that any minute we might fall flat on our butt.