I hate to quote movies, or even paraphrase them, but this one is approprate. The late Heath Ledger’s character The Joker tells Batman (paraphrasing) that the time will come when his presence has moved him in the eyes of his fans from hero to villain. What has transpired in (un)Happy Valley this past week is along this theme. Joe Paterno’s greatness this week was eclipsed by a scandal so horrible and potentially far reaching that the news is reporting that even Coach Paterno has lawyered up.
I don’t think there is a single college football fan in America, young or old, who could have ever imagined this possibility. I don’t know of many people who stood so high on a pedestal that have ever experienced a fall of this magnitude and none of them have hit the bottom yet.
The Grand Jury report is available on the ESPN website and it is incredibly disturbing. It clearly states that Coach Paterno followed protocol and reported the events that were reported to him that occured on March 1, 2002, but the integrity stopped with his reporting of the incident. His superiors then lied about the extent of the abuse during the incident that night and the Grand Jury concludes that two of the officials lied about what really happened.
The abuse goes beyond anything the rational mind can comprehend. What is more amazing is that people never said anything. Never. It appears it was in 2008 that the truth began to emerge but still took another three years to break this open.
Jerry Sandusky should be put away for life and should never have the opportunity to interact with another human being as long as he breathes. He has destroyed many lives in the process of carrying out his predatory activities and he should be removed from society forever.
As for Coach Paterno, I am struck by an enormous sadness for him but at the same time wanting to know if he knew this was happening all along. My gut wants to say no, but we realize as we get older, there are truly very few people in your life who you truly know and yet, as a society we have moved away from God, and our interactions are becoming more and more electronic in nature. Texting, Skyping and video telephoning have become the way, along with Facebook and other online sites. We don’t know who people are anymore, there isn’t any accountability along life’s path now. When the President of the United States snubs his nose at a subpoena, things have gone terribly wrong.
There is a great irony that stands out in all of this and it is that we have seen this great push in society towards big insitutions governing and watching over the people. Big Government has given millions of dollars to the schools through the Student Loan Program so these schools could get bigger and bigger and the end result for both has been the same. When institutions get too large they get to far from the people they are supposed to watch over and as a result end up failing in that regard. When this reality is infused with people who will say anything to keep their status (Penn State officials and Washington Politicians) we have narcissistic power mongers in charge of society. So, in order to keep power, officials turn away and ignore the evil that goes on due to their negligence and desire to hold on to what they have in this world. The final result is those in our society who cannot stand up for themselves, the young, the old and the unborn, take the brunt of the evil through abuse, societal and government neglect (read regulation in there) and whatever form it takes. The government reacts by creating a panel to study the horrible incident, they then create another law and throw money at the situation and then pat each other on the back while the media hails them as actually having done something.
These people’s lives, whether at Penn State, in some inner city neighborhood, or on the border of The United States and Mexico, are destroyed and no one in the elitist circle of power is willing to really address these issues because if they had true moral courage, they would have to start with our separation from God as a society. Our morals are being stripped away daily by the media, the government and all the secular industries in our world and few stand up and state it so.
Power has become more important than the individual. Just ask Joe Paterno. He was untouchable wasn’t he? Now he has seen everything he ever worked for shattered in one week by people who were supposed to have his back.
We are rapdily losing ourselves in our quest for things that don’t matter and in the quest for self. It has become a reality that even Joe Paterno was seeking his own interest because if he hadn’t, he would have said something publicly.
Matthew 16:26 (ESV) “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or, what shall a man give in return for his soul”.