After an accident or an incident, a common expression of relief is “Well, no one got hurt. That’s the important thing. The rest is just things and things can be replaced or fixed.” An incident with my daughter-in-law’s car a few days ago got me to thinking about this. (More)

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My son got a call from his wife. He hears her talking to their oldest daughter. “But honey, no one got hurt and that’s the important thing.” He has no context so he wonders if they’ve been in a car accident. Turns out that someone had broken her car window and stolen a purse, an iPad and some credit cards, among other things. For my son and his wife this is certainly an inconvenience but one rectified with calls to their bank and the credit card companies. It is only “stuff.” My son mentions that they are fortunate and it isn’t like their food money for the rest of the month has been stolen and they will have to beg to eat.

To my 7 year old granddaughter it is her big introduction to the bad things people can do to other people. In one sense it is the end of her cocoon of innocence. When my son called me to talk about this he spent almost as much time flashing back to when he was 9 years old and someone stole his treasured BMX bike. Although I remembered the theft, I had no appreciation for the impact it apparently had on him at the time. Both incidents took place in the same “nice suburb.” For the most part, it is a safe place to live with good schools.

Both thefts are the kind of petty crime unlikely to be ‘solved’ by police investigations. They are simply in the category of sh!t happens.

I find myself wishing that the cuts in food stamps or unemployment benefits were addressed by asking the question, “Was anyone hurt?” My feeling is that lawmakers making these cuts see them as ‘sh!t happens’ and never ask the question about real harm to real people. The saddest thing is that these cuts are not accidents or incidents. They are intentional harm to our most vulnerable citizens.