Sometimes Bad Things Happen To Good People

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With the exception of the sports and comic section of the two newspapers I receive daily, I merely glance through the news sections seeking articles to quote and/or comment about.  A few weeks ago, a short article in Dear Abby caught my eye simply by the title.  Although I cannot remember the title verbatim, it focused on a mother’s guilt.

The mother wrote she was in a horrible auto accident with her two children.  All were hospitalized, the mother being released that day, shortly after her seven-year-old daughter, but her four-year-old son remained in intensive care.  She questioned why she was the least injured, with her children, especially her young son, receiving the brunt of the injuries.

What struck me the most about this “Guilt,” was the fact that the majority of us feel guilt when bad things happen to us.  Many years ago, I dated a young woman named Phyllis.  One night, as we were talking, she said she had been raped years ago.

I asked her if she called the police, she replied no.  I asked her why not, she said “It was really late at night, in the wee hours of the morning.  I was walking alone, in a known bad section of the city, when an adult male grabbed me from behind, pulled me into a dark area and raped me.”

A young woman is sexually assaulted, but bears the guilt, blaming herself for being raped, not the rapists.  As with the mother with the injured children from the auto accident, the guilt is unwarranted.  Accidents happen, that is why they are called “Accidents.”

It was NOT the intentions of these two women, to be assaulted or to be in an automobile accident but their reactions are similar to many, my self included.  How many times have we blamed ourselves for an unwanted outcome, made excuses for someone else, when their (The bad guys) actions resulted in our lost of our dignity, put us in harm’s way, faced personal and/or financial loss or just made us feel bullied and/or humiliated.  When I first entered law enforcement, almost 30 years ago, laws and attitudes were much different, in my opinion, in some instances, much worse.

A great number of people, some in law enforcement, the district attorney’s office (Who do the actual criminal charging), and many in the public at large viewed rape based solely on whether you were married or a virgin. If you were not married but sexually active you may have been viewed as being promiscuous, therefore not a victim.  In the early 70’s, an inmate from the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail escaped, raped a women in nearby Pleasanton California.  When apprehended, he was charged with the escape, not rape, based on the women’s lifestyle.

How asinine is that?  No wonder, even in today’s world, many sexual assaults still go unreported.  With that said, let me tell you a short story about my first true love.

When I first entered high school, I met a young girl named Sandy.  A decade or so after we went our separate ways, Sandy contact me.  When we met, all the feelings I had as a youngster were still there.

She was HOT, the mother of a nine-year-old girl.  Sandy told me she and her daughter lived in a single family/detached home, somewhere near Brookdale and 35th Avenue in Oakland California.  Their modest home was protected by two of the meanest, nastiest German Shepherds I have ever had the misfortune to meet.

One day, when Sandy was at work and the daughter was home alone from school, the doorbell rang.  The dogs were in the backyard, behind a closed door, when the little girl answered the door.  The man ringing the doorbell forced his way into to home, pinning the child beneath him, sexual attacking her, as the dogs went crazy, but unable to attack the assailant.

Can you imagine the guilt Sandy felt, feels to this day, over something that she had no control over.  According to Sandy, the rape was worsened by the doctor who did the “Rape kit” at the hospital.  Sandy said insensitivity, arrogance, and/or dismissing the child’s trauma was worse than the assault, according to what her daughter told her.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law, the Civil Rights Amendment, giving all Americans federal protection against bias based upon their gender, color of skin, or origin.  Although I still believe there is a “Glass Ceiling” for women in the work force and that racism is still rampart, it is my thought that opportunities have greatly improved for minorities, especially women over the years.

Still, criminal activities, sexual assaults, child abuse, bullying, generally all major crimes have skyrocketed.  As major crime increased dramatically, cities and counties across our nation, were force to reduced their police and fire agencies due to budget cuts,

therefore leaving us all the more vulnerable.  Many police agencies have the words “Protect and Serve” on their patrol vehicles, which is a fallacy.

Police cannot intervene until there is an actual crime committed.  Prior to O.J. Simpson’s none conviction of murdering his divorced wife and her male friend, family disturbances were handled quite differently than today.  In California, when a wife, husband, or significant other dialed 911 to report a physical assault, police dispatchers would broadcast the incident as a 415 PC, Family Disturbance, a misdemeanor.

Hence the outcome of the Simpson debacle, a new Penal Code section was introduced, 273.5 PC, Spousal Abuse, a felony.  The difference between a misdemeanor and felony is that a misdemeanor has to be on-viewed by the officer(s), or the victim must do a “Citizen’s Arrest.”  273.5 PC allowed police to determine whether or not a crime was committed, if so, they can make the arrest.

The majority of us are fortunate to live our life cycle without interruption, but we are not immune to life’s dangers.  For the most part, we are born, grow-up, marry, have children, become grandparents, then pass away.  When that cycle is interrupted, the  guilt, can be devastating.

In the beginning of this blog entry, I wrote about a mother who was beside herself because her children were injured, far more seriously than herself, in an automobile accident.  I also wrote about a young women, then a child, who had been sexually assaulted. Guilt, stemming from incidents beyond our control, serves no useful purpose in our lives.

While in office, President Richard M. Nixon, who in the 1970’s resigned the office of the presidency in disgrace, was once asked if he paid attention to those who were in opposition of his views?  The president answered, “No, if I did, they won.”

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