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Culture Matters - Things Could Always Be Worse

On June 24 as I sat on a hospital bed after an accident at home left me with a partially amputated right middle finger, I remembered the words of my mother, things could always be worse.  As the pain mounted and the reality set in, I began to complain about the changes I would have to make.  The feelings of anger, confusion, anxiety, and sadness came to a collision at the four-way intersection in my mind.  “Things could always be worse”, she said. 

On June 23, 2019, a 2-year-old girl and her father from El Salvador drowned as they attempted to cross the Rio Grande.  Their dreams for a better life ended quickly and turned into a nightmare for the rest of their family.

On June 22, 2019, a 20-year-old white man followed a Hispanic family of four home in Phoenix, Arizona.  The 20-year-old was angry with the father, because he cut in front of him in traffic.  When the family of four exited their vehicle the 20-year-old opened fire striking the father and his 10-year-old daughter, killing her instantly.  When questioned by police, the 20-year-old said, “those spics shouldn’t be here, they should go back to their country.”  All members of the family were American citizens born and raised in Arizona.

My mom was right, things could always be worse.  Her words sounded loud and clear.  It was as though she was standing right beside my hospital bed.  Complainers go ahead.  Tell me you are having a bad day.  Tell me about the traffic jam.  Tell me about your boss.  Tell me about the job you have been trying to quit for the past four years.  Tell me that your morning is like a burning house and the snooze button on your alarm clock is the extinguisher.   Tell me that the day stole the keys to your smile and the thoughts of what the day has in store is like a crash that totaled your happiness.

When your find yourself flailing in an ocean of, “why is this happening to me?”  When it feels like your guardian angel has taken the day off and decided not to tell you.  When it feels like you have been punched in the throat by the fist of life.  Remember that every year thousands of people die of dehydration, so it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half full or half empty.  There is water in the cup, drink and stop complaining.

When your life shatters because of a traumatic event, look at the wreckage and build a new life with the pieces that are still here.  The human heart beats approximately four thousand times per hour and each pulse is a plaque engraved with the words, “I am still here, things could always be worse.”