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  • Paula Tiberius

Bad Guys

Violet was helping me make dinner the other night, and, as usual, was chatting away about her day at school and what the other kids were up to.

“My friend Sandy didn’t come to school today because a bad guy pushed her down. Well, I think he pushed her down. Or she was sick I think?”

“A boy at school pushed her down?” I asked.

“No, it was a grown-up. Or a boy.”

“Was it a boy or a man?”

Long pause.

“An idiot.”

“Yeah, he doesn’t sound like a nice guy, whoever he was.”

“He was a bad guy. But wait – are bad guys a real thing in this world?”

That stopped me in my tracks.

I could almost hear the sound of my heart breaking. Who wants to tell a four year old the answer to this question? But you can’t deny it. They’ll find out eventually, and then you’ll be the person who didn’t tell them.

“Yes, bad guys are real.”

“Why? Why are there bad guys?”

My mind went to an undergrad lecture on the problem of evil in Philosophy & Religion 101. If there is a God, why would he create bad guys?

“Well, there are all kinds of people in this world, and not all of them are happy, so sometimes they do mean things because they’re angry, or upset, or they have problems with their brains.”

Wow. What?

Violet moved on to washing the bok choy, but I was left thinking, why are there so many bad guys? Lately they just keep coming. The Sandy Hook shooter, for example. I mean come on. Where was Superman? Batman? Spiderman? Why don’t the good guys triumph in ‘this world’ (as Violet calls it)? Why can’t we have Captain Gun Control? Or Mental Illness Away Woman? Okay, not so catchy.

If only it could be so simple. Here in L.A. we all watched in horror as Christopher Dorner (a former L.A.P.D officer) killed those people and then holed up in a cabin near Big Bear. Sure, he was a bad guy, mental illness notwithstanding. But what about the police department’s systemic racism that he claims drove him over the edge? Well, that’s just too many bad guys to count, so there’s no one specific at whom you can point a gun, (or set fire to with a can of tear gas).

There are so many bad guys now, it’s hard to keep track! The Republicans are holding the country hostage with these sequester cuts that will come into effect March 1st, just so they can keep tax breaks for billionaires and corporations. Talk about bad guys! They don’t care that 600,000 women and children will suddenly be without nutritional aid or that four million seniors will go without meals on wheels, never mind the one million jobs lost. And they’re the ones who are all about job creation, apparently.

The grossest part is that they have so little integrity that they can’t even stand behind the lies they create. First they blame Obama for causing the sequester, then when they realize the people aren’t buying that story, they switch to ‘oh, it’s not really that bad’ instead. Which is it, assholes?

It’s not okay that African-American Floridians waited four hours to vote during the last election, while whites had zero delay. It’s not okay that Mississippi ratified the 13th amendment abolishing slavery just last week. It’s not okay that the Keystone pipeline might happen and lots of people living in ‘cancer alley’ will die, and that the gas it supplies is destined for export! It’s not okay that men and women are doing two or three tours of duty overseas and coming back so damaged they’re creating a whole new sector of society riddled with PTSD and related mental illnesses. Paging Captain Gun Control!

There is so much evil everywhere you look, I don’t even know why I brought a child into this godforsaken world? Hope, maybe?

I remember when I was little, learning about the horrible things that could happen to a person at the hands of a bad guy. I cried and cried and cried. Now that I’m older and I see how much deeper it goes, I get so angry. I don’t want Violet to cry, but she has to learn about evil because she might be one of those people who does something about it.

As for Violet’s friend at school, I had to check with her mother to stop my imagination from running wild. It turns out Sandy had the flu. So sometimes there’s good news.

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