Good

I’m sorry for what’s happening in the world. I’m sorry hatred gets so much camera-time. 

Newnan, Georgia—two sisters, swimming the Chattahoochee. It’s a pretty day. Alyssa Calhoun and her five-year-old sister, Kendall. They are best friends, joined at the hip.

The five-year-old drifts from shore. She can not swim against the mighty Chattahoochee. She screams.

Alyssa swims after her. They get pulled downriver. Alyssa dives beneath her sister, digs her feet in, and lifts her above her head.

When authorities find them, they are facedown in water. The youngest is alive. Alyssa Calhoun dies a hero.

She was fourteen.

Montgomery, Alabama—a teenage girl in a gas station. She places two bucks on the counter, and she is sobbing.

“I’m outta gas,” she says. “How am I gonna get home?”

The woman behind the counter comes to her. They hug. The girl presses her face into the woman’s chest.

The woman says, “Oh, honey.”

People in line pool their money to buy the girl a full tank—with change left over.

Charlotte, North Carolina—Debbie lives alone. She has no children. She is legally blind and wears thick glasses she calls “Coke-bottle lenses.”

After getting diagnosed with breast cancer, her world falls apart. Neighbors see her come and go to treatments, riding a taxi.

She’s skin and bones.

One day, a group of neighborhood kids arrives on her porch. Boys and girls, holding platters of baked goods.

They tell her they want to do her grocery shopping, cooking, cut her lawn, dust her furniture. She agrees. They work for her. They watch television with her. They even play games and eat pizzas in her den.

One boy recalls: “We turned Miss Debbie’s into a hangout, so there’d always be people around her, keeping her smiling.”

The kids stay with her until the end.

Before Debbie passes, she remarks, “Always wanted to be a mother, those children let me kinda pretend I was.”

This morning. The first thing I see on television news is mass murder in Las Vegas. Blood. Screaming. Gunshots.

My wife starts crying. My mother-in-law covers her mouth.

The footage plays like a horror movie. People screaming. Panic. Graphic gore.

The headline is a body-count.

I am nothing. I am a bunch of words you’re reading on a screen. You have no reason to read another sentence, and I have nary a credential to my hillbilly name.

But, dammit, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for what’s happening in the world. I’m sorry hatred gets so much camera-time.

I’m sorry upstanding people are starting to believe they’re outnumbered. I’m sorry people died last night.

I’m sorry news reporters make big money off death tolls. I’m sorry mothers and fathers will never see their babies again.

Even so, I cannot quit believing. I will not.

Not even if headlines tell me to. Not even if that belief kills me.

I believe bad will lose. I believe in people who are strong enough to use gentle words in dark times.

I believe in neighborhood kids who help blind women meet their peaceful end. I believe in teachers, nurses, chaplains, school counselors, and the power of kindness.

I believe in fourteen-year-old Alyssa Calhoun, who you might’ve never heard of.

And I believe in good.

71 comments

  1. Kaye Wells - October 3, 2017 2:02 pm

    Good word!

    Reply
  2. Michele Lueken - October 3, 2017 2:03 pm

    We all need to believe like you do. Thank you for putting these words out there for all to read. God Bless You !

    Reply
  3. Sarah Kennard - October 3, 2017 2:06 pm

    Thank you. I needed the reminder.

    Reply
  4. Deena Grimsley - October 3, 2017 2:07 pm

    So do I,Sean.

    Reply
  5. Jean Moseley - October 3, 2017 2:07 pm

    It is folks like you who reinforce these values I hold so dear.

    Reply
  6. Paula Link - October 3, 2017 2:15 pm

    Sean, in today’s post you said you have not a credential to your hillbilly name. I respectfully disagree. You have the a diploma from the school of hard knocks. I wish I had space -and trust – enough to share more of my background. But suffice it to say that we have some deep rooted similarities. I want you to know that your words are powerful. And some days they are all I have to hold onto. Like today. Please keep believing for both of us, until I can believe again for myself.

    Reply
  7. Juanita Ruth One - October 3, 2017 2:25 pm

    We must continue to believe in good because what we focus on in our life – expands!

    Reply
  8. Terri Thorn - October 3, 2017 2:25 pm

    Well, I do too Sean! But I must say I actually DID read one story recounting of SO many people who were at that tragic event(for lack of a better word!) Anyway, it told of loved ones shielding loved ones from bullets flying through the air, strangers doing the same – or running to grab someone wounded to get them to a safer place. Yes, there ARE STILL HEROES and ANGELS among us!! 😊😍😇🇺🇸🇺🇸My heart goes out to everyone affected by this!! May God Be With Each & Every One!!

    Reply
  9. Perri Geaux Tigers Williamson - October 3, 2017 2:28 pm

    #goodwillwin #gentlewords

    Reply
  10. William Michael Kapas Sr. - October 3, 2017 2:28 pm

    And I believe with you let our numbers multiply

    Reply
  11. Phil Blackwell - October 3, 2017 2:30 pm

    There are days when I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, days when it seems like the whole world and I have nothing in common. Then you write something like this and I remind myself that as long as you’re alive, I’m not alone. Thanks, buddy – and have a great day!

    Reply
  12. Donna Lossett - October 3, 2017 2:32 pm

    I still believe there is good in this world! I see it everyday, even when evil is running rampit! God is not dead, he does not sleep and he is still love and in control. No matter what!

    Reply
  13. B.e. Blue - October 3, 2017 2:35 pm

    Amen.

    Reply
  14. ruth858 - October 3, 2017 2:39 pm

    Thanks – I really needed this message today. Your words do make a difference.

    Reply
  15. Richard Cotton - October 3, 2017 2:41 pm

    And with words like this, I believe in you. Thanks. May God bless you and yours.

    Reply
  16. Pat Durmon - October 3, 2017 2:42 pm

    me too. I believe in good.

    Reply
    • Sandy Macfarlane Nebergall - October 5, 2017 11:59 pm

      I see incident after incident of races interacting peacefully and kindly to one another and then I read about how prolific rasism is in our country. It makes wonder if I live in some sort of bubble. No, only the bad stuff gets reported….if it bleeds it leads…………it’s tiring and discouraging until someone like you reminds us it just ain’t so. Thank you.

      Reply
  17. Joan Dake - October 3, 2017 2:54 pm

    Oh Sean, please never stop believing in good, and reminding us all to do so also.

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  18. Ernie Tompkins - October 3, 2017 2:55 pm

    Just AWESOME…again!

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  19. Joan Busby - October 3, 2017 3:08 pm

    Thank you for the boost needed today. We do need to be reminded of the “good”.

    Reply
  20. Nancy - October 3, 2017 3:16 pm

    I believe that the reason I read your blog is because it always gives me hope! You make me believe that there is more good in this world and people know!

    Reply
  21. Suzette Allen - October 3, 2017 3:28 pm

    God bless you. God bless us all. More love. Less hate.

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  22. Susan Hatfield - October 3, 2017 3:29 pm

    Me too Sean. And enough me toos are a mighty force.

    Reply
  23. Nedra Tucker - October 3, 2017 3:32 pm

    Even when you are bombarded from all sides with the bad news, if you just look there is always a spark of hope and a slice of happiness around you. The thing is you have to believe in them to recognize the signs. They are everywhere. Look at the world with love in your heart!

    Reply
  24. Jack Quanstrum - October 3, 2017 3:32 pm

    Thank you Sean for this story. I am with you, I think good always trumps bad. Keep on writing about good and those that do it. It’s a winning way to address true goodness in this world. Shalom!

    Reply
  25. Donna Dicks - October 3, 2017 3:33 pm

    Don’t ever stop reminding us of the good in our hurting world. We need you and your writing more than ever.
    Thank you for giving us hope each day.

    Reply
  26. Kathy Daum - October 3, 2017 3:36 pm

    And though the wrong seems oft so strong,
    God is the ruler yet. – My Father’s World
    “God, we know you are in charge, but couldn’t you make it more obvious?” – Desmond Tutu

    Reply
  27. Linda - October 3, 2017 3:39 pm

    Thank you for this, Sean.

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  28. Bobbie - October 3, 2017 3:50 pm

    God IS good….keep believing!

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  29. Lynda Richards, Alaska - October 3, 2017 3:53 pm

    Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  30. Barbara J Schweck - October 3, 2017 4:01 pm

    Tears today, Sean!! Look at all the people who tried so hard to save others in Vegas. I, too, am so sick of the news? casting. As one person who studies the pysche of mass murderers said to the commentator on air,”If you would quit saying that this is the most killed ever, the most shots fired, then maybe the next mentally unstable person might not accept the challenge. Do not show this guys face. Do not make him out as a “celebrity”!! Telhe commentator only smiled and withing a minute the killer’s face was shown again.

    Reply
  31. Sandra - October 3, 2017 4:03 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Keep believing.

    Reply
  32. Janet Mary Lee - October 3, 2017 4:22 pm

    I love the part about good people starting to feel outnumbered. We barely hear or see them. But they are there. Thank you for reminding us of that and just acknowledging that. And reaffirming that. Blessings!

    Reply
  33. Earl Culver - October 3, 2017 4:32 pm

    There is good, it’s just harder to find.

    Reply
  34. Teresa Lucas - October 3, 2017 4:38 pm

    Thank you Sean. We need to be reminded of the good out there sometimes.

    Reply
  35. Connie - October 3, 2017 4:44 pm

    I believe that good has to win. Maybe most people see only the bad things but I think there are enough good people out here to outweigh all that.

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  36. Pat - October 3, 2017 4:48 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
  37. Sandy - October 3, 2017 5:05 pm

    I believe that most people are good. The few who act out in violence are a very small group of unhappy, twisted souls. Keep believing in the good. Thank you Sean, for keeping us hopeful.

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  38. Pam - October 3, 2017 5:18 pm

    I believe too, Sean.

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  39. Harriet - October 3, 2017 5:39 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for reminding us of all the good in the world even though most of the news we see/hear is the negative.

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  40. Gordon - October 3, 2017 6:12 pm

    Thank you for reminding me that in the chaos of life, there is still good.

    Reply
  41. Pamela McEachern - October 3, 2017 6:22 pm

    I believe in God, Our Country and that the Good People in the world will ulltimately prevail over evil. We all are family and in times of crisis protect each other, I believe in us. God Bless and give us Grace to comfort those families and friends who lost their loved ones. 🇺🇸💟

    Reply
  42. Marcia - October 3, 2017 6:32 pm

    Amen to your comments, Sean, and those of your readers. God is in control, not evil. Wish the media would remind us of the good like you do. We need to look around us instead of at the headlines. Thanks for helping us see the simple good that is all around us.

    Reply
  43. Beverly Pennell - October 3, 2017 6:41 pm

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Let us be light and love to those around us every day. These comments are proof that people are affected by good words and deeds. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Thank you, Sean, for sharing the love and goodness around us.

    Reply
  44. Janne Swearengen - October 3, 2017 7:20 pm

    I, too, believe in good. Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  45. Ann Syfert - October 3, 2017 8:08 pm

    Sean, Thank you from Las Vegas. As I type this I have tears in my eyes from reading about all the goodness that has surrounded all the hurt in Las Vegas. Plenty of both since Sunday night. Churches opening their sanctuaries for prayer, blood donations, food, rooms from extraordinary citizens being donated to those who are waiting anxiously, all the doctors, nurses, EMTs selfless work, the professional work of our wonderful police department who lost one of their own and counselors trying to comfort the grieving. I’ve lived here a long, long time. It is a wonderful place with caring, loving, giving neighbors. We hurt and we hurt badly. We appreciate you and your post and we covet your prayers. God bless us all.

    Reply
    • Janet Mary Lee - October 3, 2017 10:36 pm

      Ann, know you are in our prayers for all those in your area and others that have suffered such a loss and in such a senseless manner. We hurt with you all, but pray you are raised to light and love. That will triumph.

      Reply
  46. Becky - October 3, 2017 8:12 pm

    If I didn’t believe in good, life would be intolerable. All the venom and hate spewed about kills the spirit unless you refuse to let it.

    Reply
  47. Laura - October 3, 2017 8:26 pm

    Out of all the bad comes good. I saw it when the city of Houston was faced with flooding. Strangers went there and rescued people they didn’t know and would never see again. I saw it in Katrina when people evacuated and some found a new place to call home in my area (a friend of mine met a woman evacuating and invited this stranger and her husband to stay with her while they either rebuilt or moved from new Orleans.) I see it with donations of food, clothing, supplies to hurricane victims in Texas, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico. I have seen it in men who take their precious vacation time to go to these locations to help people with demolition, clean up and rebuilding. I see it with a woman staying with an injured stranger for hours waiting for help. My take on the media is they dramatize the horror, the violence, the bad in our society and call it reporting. They either don’t mention or only mention as an aside the good things. Thank you Sean for helping us focus during bad times on the other side. There are everyday heroes who make a difference in lives and you are one of those!

    Reply
  48. Lynda Horne - October 3, 2017 8:28 pm

    We must continue to believe in the good, lest the evil in the world overwhelm us. I will continue to read sentence after sentence of your work even if you do make me misty eyed every time. Please keep encouraging us with your wisdom.

    Reply
  49. anthonykorey - October 3, 2017 8:29 pm

    Sean,

    You article has not only touched my heart; but also, my soul. It was literally “gut wrenching”. Thank you for introducing us to Alyssa Calhoun.
    The Las Vegas incident was in all probability the purest of evil acts in this country, than anyone could have imagined.
    YOU ARE SOMETHING! YOU HAVE A LOUD VOICE THAT PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO REALLY HEAR.
    God bless you, Sean Dietrich! Our country needs you voice, especially at this time in history.
    Respectfully,
    Tony Korey

    Reply
  50. Marin Dees Muncaster - October 3, 2017 8:37 pm

    Sean,
    My son and his friends played at that concert earlier in the day. It’s tough when you get that call at midnight and know that your child is in the middle of something evil happening. But, I still believe in good. I still believe love wins. I still believe that God is good. And, I believe that you were put hear to tell your stories. Your stories give us hope. Thank you for sharing them with us.
    God Bless!

    Reply
  51. Beth - October 3, 2017 9:12 pm

    Standing in agreement.

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  52. Cary - October 3, 2017 9:15 pm

    I believe too, Sean!

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  53. Mary Ellen Hall - October 3, 2017 9:29 pm

    I BELIEVE TOO, SEAN!!!

    Reply
  54. Nina Thompson - October 3, 2017 9:31 pm

    I also choose to believe in good Sean. Don’t watch the “news” anymore because they never seem to see…or write….about the good I see all around me.

    Reply
  55. Susan - October 3, 2017 10:02 pm

    God bless you Sean. Like you, I believe in good. But I’m getting tired. Your writing helps remind me of the good. Thank you.

    Reply
  56. Rick - October 3, 2017 10:12 pm

    There’s good all around us, we just don’t see it because of all the noise and clutter we have in our life. Thanks for continually cleaning all that up for us.

    Reply
  57. Carol - October 3, 2017 10:43 pm

    You are a breath of fresh air the news and papers fill us with so much negative. Some days it is depressing. Nice to hear some positive stories. Thank you

    Reply
  58. Jan Balsbaugh - October 3, 2017 11:45 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Me, too.

    Reply
  59. John McLaughlin - October 4, 2017 1:13 am

    Even when it seems that evil, hate, etc. is consuming our world there is MUCH more good going on among us. Together we will always make GOOD the majority, the dominant factor and the powerful force in our lives and for those around us!!!

    Reply
  60. Michael Hawke - October 4, 2017 2:33 am

    Amen

    Reply
  61. Teri Freeman Butler - October 4, 2017 3:05 am

    Thank you, Sean. So do I.

    Reply
  62. Marty from Alabama - October 4, 2017 3:15 am

    And good will win.

    Reply
  63. Lane Clemons - October 4, 2017 12:45 pm

    Sean,
    I’m proud of you. You are using your voice to capture the unique brand love and the magic that exist here. You have a lot inside you and you connect with what’s around you and you use it- you share it and it helps so many people. I really think you’d appreciate a guy named Iian S. Thomas who wrote an anonymous poetry blog called “I Wrote This For You” under the pen name PleaseFindThis. The man is good people- his words are gentle and words will haunt you. He’s one of my favorite poets and I just wanted to share a few of my favorites with you. Let me know the next time you’re in Dothan, and I’ll lend you my printed copy of his collection. I lend it out to friends and strangers or anyone that needs it..
    If Only Just Once
    “If only, after every terrible thing that happened, the news anchor wouldn’t sigh slightly as she repeated, again, how many people died, where they died and how they died.

    If only every bomb and bullet and knife was engraved with the words, “I hate you but I am different from everyone else who looks like me, so please understand, and goodbye.”

    If only we actually spoke to each other, instead of posting articles and memes and clever pictures and snide tweets and quotes, designed to make you feel stupid and let you know exactly where you and I stand on the “us” vs “them” debate and as a way to avoid directly confronting the monsters inside each of us.

    If only you could run out of sentences and just stop when you didn’t know what everything you felt meant.

    If only we responded with love and care and concern and took a moment to breath before we started yelling at each other about how our grief was wrong or where our grief could be better spent or what our grief says about us as people.

    If only we could wrap the anger and hate in blankets until it went out like a fire.

    If only, just once, the terrible thing that happened, wasn’t just the start of more terrible things to come.

    If only we’d known each other as children.

    If only.”

    The Fur
    “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place”

    The Day You Read This
    “On this day, you read something that moved you and made you realise there were no more fears to fear. No tears to cry. No head to hang in shame. That every time you thought you’d offended someone, it was all just in your head and really, they love you with all their heart and nothing will ever change that. That everyone and everything lives on inside you. That that doesn’t make any of it any less real.

    That soft touches will change you and stay with you longer than hard ones.

    That being alone means you’re free. That old lovers miss you and new lovers want you and the one you’re with is the one you’re meant to be with. That the tingles running down your arms are angel feathers and they whisper in your ear, constantly, if you choose to hear them. That everything you want to happen, will happen, if you decide you want it enough. That every time you think a sad thought, you can think a happy one instead.

    That you control that completely.

    That the people who make you laugh are more beautiful than beautiful people. That you laugh more than you cry. That crying is good for you. That the people you hate wish you would stop and you do too.

    That your friends are reflections of the best parts of you. That you are more than the sum total of the things you know and how you react to them. That dancing is sometimes more important than listening to the music.

    That the most embarrassing, awkward moments of your life are only remembered by you and no one else. That no one judges you when you walk into a room and all they really want to know, is if you’re judging them. That what you make and what you do with your time is more important than you’ll ever fathom and should be treated as such. That the difference between a job and art is passion. That neither defines who you are. That talking to strangers is how you make friends.

    That bad days end but a smile can go around the world. That life contradicts itself, constantly. That that’s why it’s worth living.

    That the difference between pain and love is time. That love is only as real as you want it to be. That if you feel good, you look good but it doesn’t always work the other way around.

    That the sun will rise each day and it’s up to you each day if you match it. That nothing matters up until this point. That what you decide now, in this moment, will change the future. Forever. That rain is beautiful.

    And so are you.”

    ― Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You

    Reply
  64. Margie Lee - October 4, 2017 1:10 pm

    Thanks, I needed that!

    Reply
  65. Kim O Washington - October 4, 2017 8:47 pm

    Me too, Sean, me too.

    Reply
  66. Marion - October 5, 2017 12:59 am

    Surround yourself with encouragers. I try to make lemonade out of lemons!

    Reply
  67. unkle - October 5, 2017 3:31 am

    Good was the first thing God made. Then evil slithered on into the garden. Good is now and has always been two steps ahead of bad. We as a Nation have the ability to overcome any and all attacks from inside or outside . Bad people do bad thangs to good people. They are evil. There are no excuses to hold up for them. Do not use a bad persons name on the news over and over. That just makes evel grow. Tell the truth about the brave people who helped strangers , saving the lives of so many that they did not know. These folks did not do good for fame or fortune or for any selfish reasons. They helped because They Were Good People. PRAY ….just PRAY

    Reply
  68. Rosanna Tsivourakis - October 18, 2017 2:05 pm

    Me, too, Sean. thank you.

    Reply

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