Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Netflix Original: 13 Reasons Why

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      For those who follow my blog, they would know that I have already done a book review for the book, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  At the end, I mentioned how excited I was that Netflix had taken this project on.  It's a heavy topic that not many producers would even think about taking on.  And I thought, "Man, Netflix better not mess this up.  They better not screw up this wonderful, heartbreaking story."  Ask my mom or sister.  They heard about a million times until the show premiere.  I was so nervous that they would stray from the original story.  It's an adaption, and adaptions will stray from the original.  I know that, but I didn't want them to go so far from the original that it changed the plot completely.
      Except, here's the thing.  They did.  And I don't even care.  
      They added so much to the show that wasn't in the novel.  At first, I was really angry.  Like, how dare they do this to this masterpiece?!  But, like the humble viewer I am, I wanted to keep watching to see if they at least did the book justice.  And, oh-my-God, did they ever do that book justice.

       If you don't want a spoiler and want to know what the book itself is about, you'll have to read my book review.  If you don't mind the spoilers, keep reading on.  
       Thirteen Reasons Why hit me hard when I read it.  The reasons why she killed herself was heartbreaking, but I could understand it.  Hannah went through some really messed up stuff.  She had a boy that she like spread a rumor that she was easy around the school.  Bryce sent the picture that Justin took when Hannah went down the slide (the one where you could see up Hannah's skirt.)  Alex, her former best friend, put her as "best ass" on his little list to get back at his girlfriend-- who is also Hannah's ex-best friend.  Alex's list caused Jessica to leave Alex and hate Hannah.  Tyler was a peeping tom and took pictures of her, which also got out.  Courtney let people think that she wanted a lesbian three-way.  Marcus made Hannah think she liked him, but was really just trying to get lucky.  She witnessed Jessica get raped by Bryce, and the fact that Justin let him.  She herself was raped by Bryce.  Ryan took her racy poem and published it without her consent.  Zach took her anonymous compliments even after he knew that they were her source of joy.  And, finally, Mr. Baker, who told her to "get over" the fact that Bryce raped her.  
      The show touched  base on all of those reasons, but it added so much to it.  Instead of owning a shoe store and moving away when Hannah killed herself, her parents owned a pharmacy/drug store and made an entire legal case after she died.  Her parents thought that Hannah died from bullying and thought that the school could have prevented this.  And they aren't wrong.  The school could have prevented it-- to an extent.  Another thing they added was extra drama when it came to the tape recipients.  In the book, the teens who received the tapes weren't so evil and conniving against Clay, and Clay wasn't trying to right every wrong.  
      Though the show writers added all of these aspects to the plot, I think they did it very well.  They produced this show, I think, to show the effects of bullying and harassment with no glorification on the subject.  So many shows will show bullying, rape, and harassment with this sort of glorification and romanticize it.  13 Reasons Why gives the viewer the cold hard truth of what it is like to go through these things.  It doesn't hold back either.  It shows everything.  It shows Jessica and Hannah's rape, as well as Hannah's suicide.  I've read a lot on how they shouldn't show those things because of the possibility of it triggering someone.  The thing is, they showed it so that we could feel the full effect.  We needed to see it.  We needed to know what happens behind that closed door.  I've also heard that it glorified suicide.  I have just one question: where in the entire show was suicide glorified?  I wept and felt sick to my stomach watching it.  Hearing Hannah weep and watching her mother find her child's dead body is NOT glorifying it.

      Last, but definitely not least, it really, really angers me that no one would talk about this, or acknowledge that the school's zero tolerance rule is complete BS.  It took a T.V. show for people to finally talk about that this is the truth behind bullying in schools!  Do you know how many times that I've heard grown men and women saying that bullied and harassed kids need to just toughen up, and, if they would, then they wouldn't get picked on anymore?  Or I hear someone tell the child being bullied to stop doing weird things and then they wouldn't be bullied anymore.  This show shows the viewers that the student doesn't really have to do anything to even be bullied.  They don't say anything because there isn't much to say.  You think, "Oh, an adult will help me.  A teacher will help me."  But they don't.  They ask, "What do you want me to do about it?" or they tell you, "Ignore it and it'll go away."  But it won't.  It only gets worse, and the fact that it took a TV show for media to pick up on this topic and acknowledge that 'ignoring it' won't work is truly sad to me.
      I would recommend this to anyone if you could get past the changes.  Anyone could benefit from it-- adult or child.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

All The Rage by Courtney Summers

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Recently I've gotten into reading more contemporary books, the books with themes of rape and mental illness and violence.  Why?  Because it makes me think.  It makes me realize that stuff like this happens all of the time.  Some people ask me why I read such "depressing" books, but, the truth is, is that I don't find any of this depressing.  They're important topics, but they're the topics that no one wants to discuss.  

All The Rage is one of those books.  It's one of those books that once you pick up, you can't set it back down. 

Romy Grey is known for three things- her painted nails, her red lipstick, and that she is the girl who cried rape against the town's golden boy, Kellan Turner.  Her family is well known.  Romy's mother was the popular girl in high school and married young.  Her father, though, turned out to be a drunkard and left her and her mother when Romy was in high school.  It's a small town, and news travels fast.  If you don't have the right shoes, you don't fit in.  

Then there's that party, that party she had looked forward to, that would create an even greater rift between the student body and her.  She knew Kellan would be there.  She had liked him for a while now, and wanted to make a move on him that night.  Penny gave her the ok, told her not to drink too much, and, even when she did drink too much, Penny would make sure she was ok.  Kellan was beautiful, and she wanted him to notice her.  She just wanted him to kiss her-- that's all.  It was harmless.  Then he continued.  And she couldn't fight back, but she was crying and told him to stop.  And he covered her mouth, because that's how you get someone to stop crying, right? "You cover her mouth until the sound dies against your palm." (Summers, C.)

Whose going to believe you?  You were drunk.  Oh, God, you were so drunk.  Sloppy drunk.  Maybe it was consensual, and you are just regretting it.  Or maybe it's your fault because you were drunk.  Should've said no, right?  Should've denied going to the truck with him.  Should've done this, or that, right?


No one cared to believe Romy.  Kellan was the sheriff's son; he couldn't of done that.  She didn't have a rape kit done, and there was no evidence anyways.  Everyone blamed her for Kellan's time in a different town; they blamed her for calling the police to "break up the party."  They blamed her for the fact that Penny is still missing.  

Penny's friends, Romy's old friends, all make her life a living nightmare.  Romy is the topic of every student.  It's her undergarments that were stolen and put on a mannequin at school.  It's her that people care couldn't less about what happens to her.  

Maybe if Romy was the one who was gone, things could go back to normal.  Maybe people could find someone else to torment.  After all, it shouldn't be Romy that's alive and well.  They were both at the senior party at the lake.  They left around the same time.  Except, Romy had ended up on the side of the road with "Rape Me" written on her stomach with her lipstick, and she doesn't know how that happened.

Within the search for Penny, Romy begins this relationship-- if you can call it that-- with a coworker of hers, Leon.  She's trying to get over her past, but every time she begins to, she finds herself back there.  He takes her to meet his family, they make out a few times, but it still isn't enough to bring her back to herself.  

The sheriff keeps pressing her for details, but when Romy gives the details she remembered, the sheriff calls her a liar.  Romy was one of the last to see Penny alive.  Romy doesn't tell that Penny disclosed that there was a girl who reported a rape while Kellan was there.  She had wanted Romy to report it in that town so maybe she would be heard then.  Romy doesn't tell that Penny believed her.

When Penny's body is found, and Brock admits to the murder, everyone is confused.  Why would Brock kill a girl he was friends with?  Because he had brought Romy out there to do what Kellan did to her.  Because she was drunk and had taken her shirt off in front of everyone.  Because he wanted to and knew he could get away with it.  But Penny saw what he was doing, and wouldn't allow it to happen.  Penny had gotten in the way.

When the sheriff asks what happened that night, Romy tells him.  She tells him Brock tried to rape her, like Kellan did, and that he would've had Penny not been there.  The sheriff storms out of her home, leaving her with her mother and mother's boyfriend.  

A few day's later, Tina, one of her prime tormentors, asked if Romy could ever forgive her for what she had done.  Instead of openly forgiving her, she made Tina go to the town that Kellan been in to talk to the other victim.

And that's where the book ends.  There is no sequel, but we can infer that they found the girl and Kellan was prosecuted with the two survivor's testimonies.

I feel like this needs to be seen.  It needs to be read and discussed among teens.  Why do we shy away from the important things?  Because we are afraid to talk about it, which leaves people, people like Romy, afraid to speak out.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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I put off reading this book for a very, very long time.  There I said it.  I didn't really care to try to read it until I wanted to do a blog post (which will hopefully be up soon) about topics such as this.  While searching books which were on the topics, Thirteen Reasons Why kept popping up with the different list of novels.

To understand this books, you must understand the characters, which are a lot and little at the same time.

Clay Jensen is the main character of Thirteen Reasons Why.  He's a pretty average guy: good grades, has many acquaintances, and is nice to almost everyone.  The book first opens up with clay sending the set of tapes that Hannah made onto the next person.  I would call this something like a prologue (because it tells of a future event without the story opening up.)  Then in the real chapter one, Clay receives the set of tapes in the mail.  Like any teenager, he's super excited that he got a package addressed to him and not his parents.  It's a set a tapes, and he's thinking, "Who even uses tapes anymore?"  However, as he starts to listen to the first tape, he realizes that this is Hannah's, his classmate's, voice, and she's telling him to listen to all thirteen tapes and send it to the next name after his or a second set of tapes will be set out.  So, Clay listens to Hannah's tapes as he travels from destination to destination marked on the map, learning Hannah's deepest thoughts.

Hannah Baker is not average.  She looks average on the outside, but she's far from it.  See, Hannah's dead.  She committed suicide not long ago, and had made thirteen tapes addressed to individuals who contributed to her decision into taking her life.  Which is really messed up if you think about it because who would want to know that they were to blame in taking a young girl's life?  She mapped out each event on a map, gave a separate set of tapes to Clay's friend, and told the unlucky thirteen individual's why she decided to take her life.  This book may seem like it's about Clay, but it's all about Hannah, and what Hannah thinks and feels. Honestly, Clay was just the unlucky guy who had to listen to the tapes. 

It's a dark novel, I'll admit this, but it doesn't feel very dark.  Of course there is Clay's emotions and thoughts that are being told alongside Hannah's narrative, but I was way more concerned on the stories that Hannah was telling than the fact that she was dead.  

I'm a sucker for novels like these.  You know the kind that make you think about what you just read?  The kind you can apply to in your daily life?  We have all been Hannah Baker.  We have all been in High School, and felt the weight from our peers gossip.  We have all felt helpless, like we have no control over what people say about us.  We have all hated something that we've done. 

But not all of us have fell so deep that we didn't get to come back up.  This book maps out what it's like to want to die, what it's like to have rumor upon rumor spread about you, and what it's like to feel like you can't trust anyone so gracefully that the reader just feels what Hannah is saying.  Because we have all been there.  

I feel like this would be a great novel for any High School-- heck, even a Middle School student, to read.  No, this isn't to promote suicide, or to send tapes of you speaking about who has wronged you.  It's to tell you that everyone has been there, and that one action you make can be a major part in the snowball effect.  I think learning about actions would be very valuable to young people today.

P.S. Netflix has taken on the project of making Thirteen Reasons Why into a mini-series.  It should be out this year, though the date isn't released.  I'm so excited!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

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Anyone who knows me knows that I don't like mysteries.  I don't like how predictable most of them are, or how easy it is as a reader to be able to solve the problem.  For a very, very long time I've been a firm believer that all mysteries are the same.  Some wrong doing is done, someone is framed, and, in the end, the truth comes out.

But that is not the case with Nearly Gone. 

I laughed at the jokes of Albert Einstein, gasped in horror when Reece was beat up, wept when Nearly had the falling out with Jeremy.  This book truly is a whirlwind of emotions that it almost takes your focus away from trying to figure out who is killing all of the students Nearly tutors after school.  Key word: Almost.  The reader is playing detective along with Nearly for most of the novel, but does so in a way that they don't care about actually figuring out who killed them, but why Nearly is being framed.  

Nearly is a Junior fighting for a chemistry scholarship.  It's her one way ticket out of the trailer park she has lived in with her mother since her father left them.  She's tired of the stares her neighbors and classmates give her.  She's tired of having to take money out of her mom's tip jar for her newspaper (which she reads religiously.)  She's tired of about everything.  This scholarship is the only thing Nearly has going for her, and she's so close to victory that she can taste it.

There are some... complications though.  

The students she tutors are being killed off one by one, and she is the reason why.  Only she can stop the killer from striking again.  The perpetrator is leaving ominous verses in the Missed Connections section of the newspaper that Nearly reads, telling her exactly where he will strike next.  He's leaving numbers on the victims arms as clues for her to figure out.

The first victim, Emily, was lucky.  She survived, and was only shaken up by being drugged and left under the bleachers.  There's a reason for that though.

The next few were not so lucky, and it left Nearly breaking every rule she had to find answers.  She felt responsible for their murders-- as if she could just figure out who was doing this, get to the next spot before the victim was killed, she could stop it.  

Meanwhile, she is the number one suspect in the murder investigation, and has been since she went to the police with the hunch that the murders are linked somehow by the notes in the Missed Connections.  This made the police send a narc-- actually, it was a juvenile delinquent looking for a clean record and a way out of the system, to get to know Nearly.  Basically the police thought she was holding back information on the murders and wanted proof of her guilt to arrest her.  Here's another problem.  Reece kinda has the hots for her, and withholds information that could be incriminating towards her because he knows that she's being set up.

The ending is a bit of surprise, though.  I had originally thought that the absentee dad was the killer because of how Jeremy had mentioned that he was a gambler.  And, you know, numbers can be a part of gambling.  But, as it turns out, it was a classmate of hers, who used his girlfriend to set the plan into motion, because he had a grudge against Nearly for something her dad did.  The numbers had nothing to do with gambling.  The classmate had used Nearly's best subject, Chemistry, against her by writing the atomic numbers of elements on the victims to spell out her name.  It was a ploy to make authorities she was the killer.

I think this is a very good book.  Which is astonishing coming from me because I don't usually read novels like this.  However, it does have violence and drugs in it, so that's something to keep in mind when picking it out for a younger reader.  If they have the maturity level to read it, though, I would definitely recommend it!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

      Imagine finding yourself wandering by the side of the road, barefoot, and not remembering how you got there.  You're covered in blood and scratches and know something is not right but you can't remember what.  Then, on top of that, you have a cop who is asking questions that go along the lines of this: 

Question: Who are you?

Answer: I don't know.

Question: What's your name?

Answer: I don't know.

Question: How old are you?

Answer: I don't know.

Question: What are your parent's names?

Answer: ...I don't know.

      You have no idea who you are, who you were, and you have no idea how you ended up where you were found.  This is what happened to Samantha.  She found herself stumbling on the side of the road without any shoes on, covered in scratches and blood, and doesn't know a thing about herself.

She has to learn things about herself that she should know.  For example, her parents and brother, or her boyfriend that she's been with for the past four years.  Samantha desperately wants to remember who she was and what she was like.  To add on to her trying to remember who she is, she's trying to recall the events that led to her and her friend's, Cassie, disappearance.  The detective keeps asking the same questions over and over again, and seemingly isn't taking "I can't remember" as an answer to his questions.  

Scott, her brother, and his friend, Carson, become her best friends while she's trying to remember who she is.  They tell her the things she's done, the people who she was supposedly best friends with, and how she was with her boyfriend, Del.  But the more Samantha learns about who she was, the more she realizes she doesn't want to become that again.  In fact, she finds that she can't stand her circle of previous friends and boyfriend.  Not only that, but she also finds herself utterly attracted to Carson, who displays the same affections towards her.

On the outside, Samantha seems to be recovering.  On the inside, however, she's full of anxiety and confusion.  She doesn't understand why she continues to receive these ominous notes, why she is seeing shadow figures while she is visiting the cliffs, or why no one wants to talk about Cassie willingly.  Detective Ramirez is still pressing Samantha for details, and, as time goes on and Cassie's body turns up, Samantha becomes the number one suspect to him.  This only puts more stress on Samantha, leaving her swimming in her own despair. 

Samantha has fallen down the social ladder when she remembered what happened seven months earlier with her now ex-boyfriend, Del.  The only people she feels she can trust now is her brother, Carson (who is now her boyfriend and rock), and Julie, her brother's girlfriend.  Samantha doesn't seem to mind that she doesn't have all the rich kids behind her.  She just wanted to feel normal, and her small group of friends gave her that.

After it is revealed that the notes were in her own handwriting, Samantha's parents take her to a therapist who tells her that the shadow man is hallucinations brought on by stress and anxiety.  She is put on medication to control her panic attacks.  This doesn't stop her memories from resurfacing, though.  

Samantha remembers who killed her friend, and who left her to die.  When the truth comes out, her mother doesn't care about appearances and her life is changed in different ways than she could have ever imagined. 

I really enjoyed "Don't Look Back."  I have never enjoyed mysteries, but this novel didn't come across as a mystery.  It was more of a girl who wanted to know what happened, who was relearning things about herself, and was experiencing things that would bring her family down on the social latter.  It's a book about a teenage girl experiencing teenage girl things.  Most mysteries that I've read focus on the murder victim.  Not many focus on the living.  This book does.  It also includes aspects such as mental illness that not many books include.  It made it feel more real, which is what readers want.  We want a book that makes us feel, and "Don't Look Back" makes the reader feel many different feelings.  

It's definitely a book that I would suggest to anyone who wants to read something different and fairly undiscovered. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What Do College Students Think About?


      I am not sure if I have stated this in previous blog posts, but I am a college student.  This year is my second year.  Being a full time student, I am kept pretty busy doing my course work while trying to maintain a well rounded life.  With college being the main theme today, I want to dedicate this post to all the students out there who need a relatable read, and to their family and friend who want to know what it's truly like to be a college student.

      I wish, oh, how I wish I was properly prepared for how college would be.  If high school taught me anything, it was that the officials who are supposed to prepare you for college don't know a thing about what college is like.  We are told that we need a perfect GPA, know how do to this and that, and that the work would be so much harder.  

      Lies.  All lies.

      What we needed to know was how to fill out official forms for FAFSA and student loans on our own, how to read tax forms, how to write an email to a professor, and so much more.  I am very lucky to live at home and go to an online college, but many are not so lucky.  While I am able to learn the basics of life (cooking, cleaning, how to manage money, etc..), those who live on campus are not.  I once talked to someone who didn't even know how to use a washing machine until she lived on campus.  High school students focused so hard on getting into college, that we didn't focus on how to live and take care of ourselves once we got there.

      To add onto that, we have to get so many things done in such a limited time frame, that we can hardly think about what to make for dinner.  That is, if we can think.  That's another thing.  The thought process of a student might just be one of a man whose been up for three days and is only living off of coffee and pop-tarts.  Our minds are not only dangerous, but it can be a tad bit sad if I am to be honest.  Here is a list of thoughts an average student has on a nearly daily basis:  

1. I need to wake up.  

2. It's 10 o'clock and I already need a nap.  

3. It's too early to deal with this.

4. What is there for breakfast?

5. Why do I never have anything I want to eat?

6. Oh, crap!  I have an assignment due tonight.  

7. I am going to take a bath.

8. Shoot, I still have to do dishes.

9. Man, screw pants.  I'm wearing pajamas all day.  Again.

10. It's 12.  It's literally the afternoon and I have gotten nothing done.

11. Okay.  Dishes.  Gotta do them now.


13. I want to dance around.  Like really bad.

14. Actually I want a doughnut.  

15. What if I had a doughnut and danced with it, would I choke?

16. I'm sure that's better than doing this paper.

17. Have I brushed my teeth today?

18. I need to pee.

19. And I still haven't eaten anything today.

20. I'll just eat later.  I really need to do this assignment.

21. I hate school.

22. Why am I in school?  It's too expensive.

23. I'm just going to become a stripper.

24. Actually, I can't be a stripper.  My boobs are too small and I trip on my own feet.

25. Just...a...little...more....


27. FINALLY, I finished this paper!

28. Can I sleep?  Is 6 too early to go to bed?

29. I just realized I still haven't had food today.  I'm going to eat.

30. I'm going to bed.  Screw this.

I just realized this sounds like something a vlogger on YouTube would make, and I probably would've done such a thing if I was talented enough to talk on a camera for God knows how long and still talk in coherent sentences.  

Anyway, I just want to add that, though I've been M.I.A. lately with the blog posts, I have an almost three week break from school and plan to utilize that time to write some posts.   

Friday, November 11, 2016

We Have A Voice

At the beginning of this election, I promised myself that I would not get involved-- just as I wasn't involved when our last president came into office.  I would not subject myself to the political views of this party or that party.  I would not let the judgement of others affect what I believed.

I broke my promise.  

Perhaps it is because I am older than I was with the last election.  Perhaps it is because this election was slandered with political propaganda, and my social media was full of it.  Perhaps it is because I see how the people with power truly influence the lesser people.  I don't know.  All I know is that I let myself be subjected to this amazing thing called democracy, and I'm appalled by the results.  

Before I truly begin my post, let me explain that this is not another post that is to demean the new president, or who almost became president.  This is not to subject you, my readers, to my own views.  (Because, quite frankly, I still don't know how to process this.)  This is not to meant to be another protesting post, with the same points as any other post in this country.  

This post is to establish to you that what is happening in America, to our people, is wrong, and we should not be silent.

Now, I said that this isn't a protesting post.  It isn't.  I'm not protesting that Trump became president, or that Hillary lost.  It isn't my place to.  I didn't vote.  I didn't want to vote.  And, if we are honest, he did win fair and square.  I don't care that he won.  Even though he had word vomit throughout the debates, I have a tiny bit of hope that he could be a good president to this country.  I would've said the same thing about Hillary.  No, what I'm protesting is how the American people are reacting, and the injustice.

There are two sides to this story.

On one side, you have Hillary supporters, who are rioting the streets, and are causing a big fuss.  I can understand your worry.  I can understand that you are afraid.  I do understand, truly.  And I am so, so terribly sorry that you are being subjected to this cruelty that your fellow countrymen are giving you.  However, there is no reason to become unruly.  Are you not the ones who wish for peace?  Demand peace with peace.  Be like Martin Luther King Jr. and the women's suffragettes.  Their points were heard, they were dealt with, but they were dealt with peacefully.  

On the other side, you have American people-- neighbors, brothers and sisters, friends, who are terrorizing innocent bystanders by ripping off their hijabs and attacking others.  African Americans and other colored people are being told to sit in the back of the bus again.  Women are afraid to walk on the street, for fear they'll be attacked.  Muslim women are not wearing their religious dressing because they are being called a terrorist, and are being physically assaulted.  Latinos are being told they are going to be deported, and that the wall couldn't come up soon enough.  These attacks, these threats, they are going without being reprimanded by law enforcement.  Other bystanders are just letting it happen.

What is this?  What is your goal in this?  

A better question is: Is this the world you want your children-- your sons and daughters, to grow up in?  


I can understand that we are not all influential people.  We do not all have money.  We do not all have the means to fight back.  But we all do have a voice.  We can speak out against these harmful doings.  We can protest civilly.  We can stay true to what America represents.  Without that, without staying true, we are nothing but a group of chickens with our heads cut off.

Everyone matters.  The Muslims, the LGBTQ+'s, the women, the children, the colored people, the Latino's, the white men, etc... Everyone matters.  We did not come so far in history, only to walk back a few decades in the course of a couple days.  No, America is stronger than that.  Like everything that we see, and everything that happens to us, we will overcome such wrongdoings and come out on top. 

Dear Readers, we are all the same.  Our skin tone, sexuality, or backgrounds do not change who we truly are.  We blame the new president for the American people's actions, but it is not his fault.  He is not the one committing such heinous acts of violence.  It is the people.  People on both sides are committing acts against the other.  It is time we stop this arguing, and time we unite again.  We may not see eye to eye, and that is okay.  We don't have to.  But we must get along, and work together to maintain peace within the country, lest we want another civil war.  

I am but one person.  I have a meek voice.  

But, together, we have a bellowing voice that can be heard for miles.  Perhaps it's time we use that voice, and do good, rather than bad.