When it comes to the whole basic essence of my life, in the end I’m trying to do one thing and one thing only: make it into heaven.

That’s my long-term goal pure and simple. Now, like you, every day, I sin; I mess up; I fall short of the glory of the Good Lord. Like you, each day I inevitably say something I shouldn’t have said or do something I shouldn’t have done.

But at least I’m trying.

That’s why, lately, I’ve become so utterly fascinated with all the people in the world who, from as far as I can tell, aren’t even trying at all.

In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that, not only are they not trying to get into heaven, they seem to have the exact opposite goal. These people – at least from all outward appearances – have a desire to go to hell. And not just to go to hell, but straight to hell.

From all indications, these are people who want to get there right away without passing Go, without collecting $200 and without any sort of pit stop in purgatory along the way – they just seem to want to go straight there and leave it at that.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not talking about all the bad people in the world. Lord knows there are plenty of those and some of them will probably make it to heaven and some will not. No, I’m talking about the people who manage to go the extra mile and take evil to a whole new level – the ones who seem to be asking to go to hell.

These days, every time I turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, I see evidence that this is clearly some people’s goal. Also, for some reason I’m not sure of, a lot of incidents seem to happen during the holiday season when we are supposed to be extra loving and kind to our fellow men and women.

Here are just a few of the people who are asking for it …

  • The man who robbed $600 from the bra of a 93-year-old wheelchair-bound woman. This happened in early September in Manhattan and I first heard this story on Inside Edition. This elderly woman in a wheelchair had just gotten some money from an ATM and hidden it in her brassiere and rolled into a curb market – when Broyoan Lopez, 26, reached into her top and grabbed the money nestled next to her bosoms. I mean, come on people! Who does that? Even if you are a crook, isn’t there any honor among thieves or whatever? Isn’t there some sort of basic conscience that sets off alarm bells in your mind when you are thinking about doing this?

Now, I understand that sometimes people need money – I get that. Times are tough. But do you really have to rob a 93-year-old woman? OK, let’s say that you do have to rob a 93-year-old woman, then do you really have to pick one in a wheelchair? Let me tell you, the only way you do that is if you want to go to hell.

  • The man who stole the Salvation Army kettle from in front of a Winston-Salem Wal-Mart. Last December, James Purvis Jr., 39, stole the red kettle from the entrance of a Wal-Mart on Parkway Village Circle.

Purvis snuck up behind the bell ringer, grabbed the kettle with Christmas donations for the needy and, according to one news account, “ran off on foot before getting into a silver full sized pickup truck with no tailgate and a driver side rear window covered in plastic and duct tape.”

OK, now, once again, I understand you need money. After all, your truck window is covered in duct tape. But can’t you find something else to steal besides the Salvation Army kettle that holds the Christmas donations of shoppers collected by the nice volunteer bell ringer standing outside in the cold? Does that really have to be your target? Do you know how hard it was for that volunteer to collect that money in the first place: People who are shopping at Wal-Mart do not part with their money easily – that’s why they’re at Wal-Mart.

  • The three masked thieves in Burlington who broke in on a family’s Thanksgiving dinner, pulled guns on them and robbed them. Listen, family holiday dinners are plenty tense enough without having gunmen crashing in and robbing you at gunpoint. This is just piling on and it is a good way to get sent to hell. Also, it’s just plain wrong to work on Thanksgiving and that applies whether you are a Best Buy sales manager or part of a three-man crime ring. Can you not at least take Thanksgiving off?

Ñ The two criminals who tied up and robbed a couple in their mid-80s at the Well-Spring retirement community. This happened right here in Greensboro in March. A man and his wife in their mid-80s were living at Well-Spring just enjoying their golden years and minding their own business. They had probably just turned on Little House on the Prairie reruns and kicked back to enjoy some nice tall glasses of Ensure – and then, bam! Two men wearing masks crash in, tie them up and rob them. Straight to hell.

  • The lion-killing dentist. In July 2015, dentist Walter Palmer gunned down the innocent and much-loved Cecil the Lion who was a major attraction at a Zimbabwe nature preserve. Look, you can kill a lion if it rushing toward you on the planes of the Serengeti and the lion is looking at you like you are the wounded baby gazelle separated from the pack on the National Geographic special. But you can’t do it if the poor lion is just laying around the preserve enjoying the sun. You especially shouldn’t kill any lion that has a name. Listen, Walter, you shouldn’t even be in Zimbabwe in the first place. You should be back home filling cavities and hitting on your hot dental assistants. By the way, if you think they are hot, you see how hot it is where you are going.
  • Anyone who commits crimes in church parking lots. This is just wrong. There are plenty of places to assault people or break the law in other ways – you don’t need to do it on church property, for goodness’ sakes. There are a lot of examples I could use here but this is an account of one such crime from the Daily Caller website …

“A pregnant woman was punched and robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of a church while her two-year-old son watched, according to news reports.

“Jenna Perkins of Hurst, Texas said the alleged robber wanted to buy her cell phone, which had been listed on the website OfferUp, according to local station KTVT-TV.”

In the story, Perkins said, “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m in a church parking lot. I should be OK,’ but that’s not the case.”

OK, not only is he robbing her, he’s robbing her while she’s pregnant with her two-year old watching. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, and she’s doing it in a church parking lot. No heaven for you.

  • And the winner is … The guy who shot the pope in an assassination attempt. I literally cannot think of any better way to ask to be sent to hell than by trying to assassinate the pope. I still remember the first time I saw this story decades ago. I was at Duke in May 1981 when the news broke that Mehmet Ali Agca had shot Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City.

I saw it on the news and I was like, “What?? Huh?? He shot the pope?” I just couldn’t believe it. Who does that? News accounts said that the pope later forgave Agca for the assassination attempt.

The pope may have forgiven Agca, but I feel certain Agca will get the pearly gates and be pleading his case and St. Peter will be like, “Hey, man, listen, trust me, we try to work with everyone – but come on, you shot the pope …”