This World Hasn’t Gone To Hell

Sadness is in the atmosphere. Even if you were to turn off your television and unsubscribe to the paper, it would crawl through your shower drains and toilets.

Birmingham, Alabama—a minor league baseball game, a well-attended one. The chatty boy sitting next to me said his name was Martin. I remember this because he said it over and over again.

Martin had Down syndrome, he wore a hearing aid, and spoke loud enough to rupture my eardrums. “MY NAME’S MARTIN!” he pointed out again.

I must’ve shaken his hand ninety-seven times.

After the fourth inning, they put Martin’s face on the jumbo screen. It was his birthday. Five thousand folks sang to him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smile that big on a human-being before.

“I love you, Martin,” said his father beside him.

Martin was ten years old.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama—it costs a small fortune for a parking spot at football games. That is, if you’re lucky enough to find one. We drove slow, looking for free space to cram the truck into. A middle-aged man in his yard flagged me down. I lowered my window.

“You can park here,” he said. “On my lawn.”

“How much?” I asked, waiting for a four-digit number.

“Free. I have a golf-cart, too. I’ll even give you a ride to the stadium.”

My wife leaned over to whisper, “Honey, he might be an axe murderer.”

Maybe, but this axe murderer had a golf-cart.

I tried to pay the man for his trouble. He said, “Save your money for someone who needs it.”

Chatanooga, Tennessee—I saw a girl spill a Frapuccino on her skirt. It went everywhere. She didn’t cry about it—though she was close.

Without skipping a beat, the young lady behind the counter came to mop up the mess. She brought a change of clothes. “They’re clean,” she said. “I haven’t worn them yet.”

“I can’t take your clothes,” said the other girl.

“Sure you can. Besides, they’ll look better on you. You’re prettier than I am.”

Well. Pretty is as pretty does.

The older I get, the harder good days are to find. Bad news is everywhere. Just the other day, I read about a woman raping her own daughter. It soured my stomach. I couldn’t finish eating.

Sadness is in the atmosphere. Even if you were to turn off your television and unsubscribe to the paper, it would crawl through your shower drains and toilets. Another day, another murder, another war, another politician buying a beach house.

Well, I don’t have any answers. And I’m sad to say, I don’t know how to make the world better place, or how to stay happy in the middle of a hate-hurricane.

But I know someone who does.

His name is Martin.


  1. Beth Currie Gillion - July 5, 2016 2:19 pm

    You do know how to make the world a better place. You do it every day with your posts. They make me laugh and they make me cry and I look forward to reading them. That makes my world a better place.

    • Patricia Hartzog - February 5, 2017 4:35 pm

      What Beth Currie Billion said, ditto!

  2. Regina - February 5, 2017 4:13 pm

    Your writings are awesome. I truly look forward to them daily. Thank you for your giving spirit.

  3. Cathy - February 5, 2017 5:41 pm

    You make mine brighter. Thank you and I love your writing.

  4. Tom Sorrells - February 5, 2017 5:51 pm

    I an Tom Sorrells, I am a former District Attorney in Dothan, Al. I have actuall handle a case where a mother raped he daughter and several where a mother held a daughter down while the father sped her and other terrible events, but I have also witnessed incredible courage, kindness and innocence from the children and mentally challenged people in my family. I like the way you write!

  5. John Roberson - February 5, 2017 6:07 pm

    Sean, I think your articles will become the daily reading passage for my middle school reading class!!

  6. Suzanne Wright - February 5, 2017 6:48 pm

    Hi Sean……you made tbe young boy a happy camper by your hanshakes.(how many times?) and telling his story makes him famous! Tou go guy!

  7. Robin - February 5, 2017 7:19 pm

    Love your writing. Thanks for making me smile!

  8. Robin - February 5, 2017 7:27 pm

    Love your writing. Thanks for making me smile.

  9. Sue Holbrook - February 5, 2017 9:29 pm

    Sean, it’s the small moments that make the difference in life. Thanks for sharing these.

  10. Maggie G - February 5, 2017 10:29 pm

    This gets me through the day. I also try to find the best in people, and stay away from the toxic ones. I am sad at the disappearance of human kindness and dignity

  11. Bill Wilhelm - February 6, 2017 11:58 am

    Your commentaries about folks who are climbing peaks hand over hand are so much more human and interesting than tales of self-absorbed scions who lean back in their private Lear jets. Thank you for finding them and letting us know the back stories.

  12. Wendell Sasser - February 6, 2017 12:55 pm

    Are you familiar with the writer Lewis Grizzard? If not take a few minutes to look up some of his writings. Your wit and wisdom is similar.
    I became familiar with Mr. Grizzard’s writings while reading the Atlanta journal in the late 70’s along with several books he authored. He has long since passed.
    Since that time I have been unable to find a writer that is able to push the same emotional buttons as Mr.Grizzard.
    That is up until now.
    Looking forward to the journey.


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