“By and large, people are just no damn good.”
It might just be my favorite quote by…well, by no one you know, unless you know my father-in-law, Bud. The first time I heard him say it, I was about 21 years old. We were eating dinner at my kitchen table talking about whatever was the most recent police call my husband had been on. Bud said it…and I was appalled. I didn’t say anything to him, but as soon as he left, I began to rant and rave. “That’s just simply not true,” I informed my husband. “People are inherently good,” I said. “He’s wrong. So wrong.” I lamented.
But, as time wore on, I’ll admit…I quit believing people were good. Particularly in recent years, as the war on cops began to rage, I no longer believed. Each time something bad would happen, I would say to my husband, “Well, Bud was right. By and large, people are just no damn good.” I had plenty of proof. People do horrible things. They kill police officers. They abuse children. They neglect the elderly. They make fun of the disabled. They steal. They lie. They cheat. They riot. They desecrate the flag. They are, by and large, just no damn good…just like Bud said.
Last week I sat in the backseat of my car, behind my son in his dress blues. We had just left Officer Nick Reyna’s funeral and were driving to the cemetery. I looked out the window as we drove 6 ½ miles from the church to the cemetery. And I saw.
I saw people lining the streets. I saw them in coats and hats and gloves. I saw them standing on corners and balconies and in parking lots. I saw them holding United States flags. I saw them holding babies wrapped tightly in blankets. I saw them waving blue line flags. I saw them saluting. I saw them with their hands over their hearts. I saw them holding tiny, hand-made signs crudely printed with the words, “Thank you for your service.” I saw dads squatting down trying to explain what was going on to little children. I saw whole families standing next to each other. I saw boy scouts and their leader. I saw Texas Tech students. I saw old people. I saw young people. I saw them pushing strollers and wheelchairs. I saw people standing in “nice” neighborhoods and people standing in “not-so-nice” neighborhoods. I saw them standing outside apartments. I saw cars stop and people get out. I saw them stand in the cold for a funeral procession which was miles and miles and miles long. I saw them stand there for more than an hour to pay their respects to Officer Reyna and the entire police family. I saw them all. And instantly, I knew.
Bud was wrong.