There are many, many things that are better than nothing. A home-cooked meal is better than nothing. A roof over one’s head is better than nothing. And a place to sleep, even if the bed is very small and the blanket is damp with tears is better than nothing.

But being raised in a violent and sinister environment by a man more interested in one’s fortune than in comfort and well-being is not better than nothing.

Trouble and strife can cover this world like the dark of night, or like smoke from a suspicious fire, and when that happens, all good, true and decent people know that it’s time to volunteer.

– Lemony Snicket, “The Bad Beginning: Part One”, A Series of Unfortunate Events