Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

10 Nov

For those of you restlessly waiting to learn more about the rest of my family, your restlessness will continue for another day or so.  I don’t think I can let a situation like this go by and really honor my family as I should.  Because I think the defense of individuals who cannot defend themselves is important to the protection of families.  Therefore, I am addressing the issue of Joe Paterno, his firing, what is the correct thing to do, and how it should alter our world.  Anyone who has watched the news recently has probably heard something about this story.  Some of you don’t want to know anything more than you do already.

I have always looked at sin as equally despicable before God, but my friend Pancake assures me that there are degrees of sin.  So as long as we are ranking, I am putting murder as the worst sin.  I rank #2 as the violation of minor children.  It is a despicable thing, and I can find nothing that is worthy of defense within it.  For me, this situation will always make me think of Michael Jackson, not because the news came out the same week as the doctor who treated Michael Jackson was charged, but because Michael Jackson, much like Jerry Sandusky, was surrounded by enablers.  And this is what Joe Paterno was—an enabler.

There are certain facts that when you hear them, regardless of whether the remainder of the story is true, you need to take pause and be disgusted.  Jackson was in bed with young boys not related to him.  Sandusky was in the shower with boys not related to him.  These facts are enough to give any moderately discerning adult pause.  Joe Paterno was told the story.  If he wants to play semantical games and say he doesn’t remember this detail or that detail, I don’t care; he knew enough to be given great pause.

Unfortunately, I have been in a situation where I learned of adults doing bad acts to minors.  These acts were never proven and were not 5% of the terribleness of what Sandusky was accused, but they gave me great pause.  When I was around these individuals again, I was very alert, I made sure (for both their sakes and the children’s) that they were not given any opportunity to be near children and certainly not alone.  Having worked at many schools (a college, as well as couple high schools), I know that any school employee is given a very precise set of things to look for and a very specific outlook for those who have committed past violations.  Now I do not know enough about the specifics of Penn State’s education or their instruction, but even if merely telling your superior and doing nothing else is the standard they have (something I doubt a member of the prestigious Big Ten and the esteemed Committee of Institutional Cooperation would allow as a standard), he still fails to be reasonable.  Sandusky was spotted with the program as recently as earlier this year.  Not to mention, he ran a charity for young boys called The Second Mile, which is a “program for at-risk youth,” which was heavily supported by Paterno both verbally and monetarily.

These facts are what lead me to so easily say he was an enabler.  He assisted a man whom he had heard (at the very least) put himself in compromising positions with boys in a position where he was smack-dab within reproach.  Paterno was directly responsible for putting a man with a known problem (even if, as he claims, he didn’t know everything) in a position of being exposed to that problem.  At the very least, this is giving the alcoholic a champagne sendoff.  And, if you believe (as I find myself inclined to do) that he knew the facts as presented in the grand jury report, it is the equivalent of giving that alcoholic, who has yet to reform, a hard whisky IV.

Now some will say I’m picking on Paterno.  Nothing I say has been overly stated.  That argument is only one of comparison.  And it is true that people are saying more about Paterno than others.  But with great fame, great pay, great responsibility, much is required.  And the head football coach is going to be more visible than a Defensive Line Coach or an Athletic Director who hasn’t hired a new football coach in 40+ years or a college president whom no one can name.  That’s just the way it is.  But Paterno’s punishment was necessary.  His job was to take teenagers and get them to commit to his program, and then to take young men and mold them into honorable men.  You simply cannot allow an enabler of perverts to have such a high profile position with a college.  He had to go, and the school made the right decision
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Some will also say that you cannot let 60 years of good be overshadowed by one incident.  Never minding the fact that this is far more than one incident, unfortunately, we can.  No amount of good can undo the terrible atrocities that have happened and that Paterno allowed happening.  As I look back at my own life, I see an accumulation of actions—some for which I am significantly proud and some for which I am greatly sorrowful.  The cold, hard truth is that to many people, particularly those who don’t know me well, the defining moments are the bad ones.  The ones I lay awake at night wishing I could undo; the ones that I barely admit to myself I could have done; the ones that, if I had a Delorean, I would go back and re-do.  These are the moments that define me to so many people.  This is the unfortunate thing about the human memory.  It’s also true that these moments scar my life and the lives of those around me forever.

But, I do think there is good news in all this.  If Paterno is the man that so many believed he was, he is not without hope.  Because while that may define us to our fellow-man, the fact is that there are heinous things that can be forgiven.  Paterno was merely the enabler, while Sandusky was the committer of the second worst sin I can name.  Yet in the Bible, I read about David, who is called a man after God’s own heart.  He committed the worst sin of which I can think (murder, as listed above), and yet God still cared tremendously for him.  Paterno and Sandusky may be defined to detractors for years to come by these actions.  But they can still turn around their lives and live honorably from henceforth.  And if Paterno is the man I’ve heard my whole life that he is, while his firing was just, he will pick up the pieces and begin again to carve out a life of greatness.

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4 Responses to “Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out”

  1. Kirbysdance November 11, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    I get why people are upset and want to remember Joe Pa as a great football coach. I have no emotional ties to the man and the school, but I do believe that for current and former students at Penn State, the man was a legend, an inspiration, a good guy. Was. Or maybe, he was never at all. I think the one image I will take away from this is when I saw Matt Millen brake down, for a few seconds, on Sportscenter. You could tell this was breaking his heart, and I feel that that sentiment is mostly shared in the people that wish he could retire on his terms, "One More Game." Because if you idolized him, what could you do? Devastation is the only thing I could imagine feeling if I was in that position. The fact that this man, a man you thought was a hero, was an accomplice to THE worst crime a person could commit, that can't be easy to deal with. But Joe deserved his unceremonious exit, and perhaps a lot more. And consider me incredibly proud of the school officials at Penn State, who could have easily, so so easily, done the convenient and the wrong thing and let him coach. They took a stand for what is unquestionably right.

  2. Jenni November 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I do not watch the news, and I have no idea who any of the names you mentioned belong to, so I was completely lost reading this passionate blog. But I think incestuous acts on minors are worse than murder. This is sort of an inane comment, but I like to comment on your blogs, and this was the only thing I felt I could comment on and keep a semblance of dignity. 🙂

  3. AskThePhatMan November 12, 2011 at 5:44 am #

    Since KirbysDance and Jenni agree, I could be wrong. But, I think we could all, at least, concede that the two worst sins are molestation and murder. Very horrible, both, and anyone who commits either must not be enabled.

  4. PCBO November 14, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    The whole sordid affair gives me pause and more. I pray if, perish the thought, I had to act morally and courageously on behalf of an abused little one, that in my role I would move mountains for their rescue and defense. As for one who matriculated at Penn State many years ago and has long held Joe Pa in esteem, I wish he had voluntarily resigned given his failures as opposed to clinging to some illusory dignity he long since forfeited. If he had done so, he might have helped diffuse some of the rage and rebellion that took to the streets of State College in protest. Thanks for your post!

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