Have you watched the news recently? I don't mean to complain, but it's a never-ending circus of sadness and horror. If they're not reporting on mass shootings, they're talking about the possibility of mass-shootings. And when they're done, they discuss mass shootings.

Well, I speak for millions of Americans when I say: I'm disturbed. What about the good stuff? In our giant of briar-patch world, there are millions of strawberries that pop up every day. And if you'll permit me, I'd like to tell you about a few.

Ahem.

I'll begin with schoolchildren who visited a Missouri Humane Society last Wednesday. The kids are part of a program in which students practice reading storybooks to rescue dogs. The purpose: to calm traumatized animals — and because everyone hates math.

Florida: ninety-year-old lottery winner, Ruby Sorah, won forty-three million dollars. Let that sink in for a second. This week, Ruby told reporters she's giving all her money away. Every last cent. Not even a trip to Vegas to see Celine Dion.

My granny never even gave Christmas cards.

In other news: meet a blue-eyed newborn with a severe brain abnormality. His birth mother abandoned him in a West Virginia hospital the day after his birth. The next morning, Rhonda Farley, a stranger, adopted the baby on the spot, without hesitation. “I believe," says Farley. "Every child needs somebody. Especially kids with special needs."

Which brings us to Kiera Larsen, who died on Monday after pushing two toddlers out of the path of an oncoming SUV. When she saw the runaway vehicle, she displayed bravery that was downright other-worldly, with no regard for her own life.

She died a hero.

Yes, our world is full of hatred, which is no shock. Just watch the news. There are killers with semi-automatics, madmen with bombs, and candidates caught in sex scandals.

But there are also saints like Kiera. Good people with a kind of…

The following years were the blackest of all existence. In small towns, girls on the bus don't exactly choose to sit next to someone whose daddy went out like mine did.

You know who you are. You're sad right now. Well, I have words for you: I understand. Because, you see, I'm the son of a dead fella.

Let me back up.

In ninth grade, I asked Lynn Riddick to a summer dance. Lynn was as cute as an oven mitt, and I was dumb enough to believe I had a chance. When I finally worked up the courage, she answered, “You know, you're a funny boy.”

“Funny?” I asked.

“Yeah, funny-ha-ha.”

I was hoping for funny-sexy, but funny-ha-ha was better than being a flat-out shoe-licker.

But then came the final blow. “You're sweet," Lynn added. "But I can't be seen with you. I mean, everyone knows about your daddy...”

My daddy.

Well, I might as well tell you about him since you've read this far. My daddy died in a most dramatic manner when I was twelve. The following years were the blackest of all existence. In small towns, girls on the bus don't exactly choose to sit next to someone whose daddy

went out like mine did. Neither do they want to dance.

Anyway, why am I telling you this? You already know why. Because life hurts like hell. There're no two ways about it. Life is a horse puck sandwich — eat it or starve. And I'm no pessimist, I'm just the son of a dead fella.

But I'm not finished yet. If you're sad, I want to tell you something.

Be sad. Don't fight it. Let the sadness run over you like creekwater. Don't listen to anyone who advises otherwise. Complain, cuss, cry, shout, write, overeat, and sleep.

Because when you're finished, you'll discover there's love out there. Lots of it. When you do, you'll learn things about yourself that will cause you to feel compassion.

Eventually, you'll enjoy art again. And tomatoes, baseball, and people. You'll notice the sky is as colorful as a Senoia sunrise.…

Andy's got big ears, talks with a drawl, and sings Southern Gospel like your grandaddy did. And he'll sing you whichever hymn you please. He knows the entire Baptist Hymnal by heart.

I'm not crazy about our presidential candidates. But it's not their fault. These politicians are who they are. While I'll bet they're upstanding, God-fearing folk, I sure as shoeshine don't want them at my barbecue.

Thus, I've come up with the only political idea I've ever had. You can slap me sideways once you've heard it.

I suggest we elect Sheriff Andy Taylor for president.

If you don't know who Andy Taylor is, you might as well quit reading here. Because Andy is good people — most folks from tiny rural towns are. Furthermore, I can relate to Andy. He was raised in church, he fingerpicks a flattop, he's good with a joke, and he believes in skipping work to go fishing on occasion.

I don't care which party he's affiliated with, because I'm confident all Andy's parties have plenty of potato salad.

You want his political record? Fine. Andy's been sheriff since 1960. And, there's never even been one auto accident in his town. Not a one. Andy's

the kind of guy who once grounded his own boy for not donating enough to the Needy Children's Fund — let that sink in a moment.

He's an extinct breed.

Andy's got big ears, talks with a drawl, and sings Southern Gospel like your grandaddy did. And he'll sing you whichever hymn you please. He knows the entire Baptist Hymnal by heart.

The best thing about Andy, is that he doesn't campaign. In fact, he doesn't give a damn who you vote for. He's a simple man, not a self-promoter passing out flyers. He'd rather be catching a small-mouth bass on a cane pole — frankly, so would I.

In the only debate speech I ever heard him deliver, he said, “You're either satisfied with me, or you're not. And, uh, I guess we'll find out when you vote.”

Good old Andy. The world could do with more of him. Some…