Horror in Happy Valley, Part 2
As if it couldn’t get worse.
I blogged back in November about the former Penn St. Asst. Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually victimizing children while running a foundation that lured them in. Sandusky will likely never leave prison. But a subsequent investigation now reveals that there were cover-ups throughout the football AND university administrations. You can read about that HERE.
To put it mildly, plenty of people had plenty of power to stop child rape, and they didn’t. That includes now deceased legendary coach Joe Paterno. Few, if any, men in college athletics commanded more respect that “Joe Pa,” who led the Penn State football program for over 60 years.
The new report has those who respected him most now conceding that he was in on the cover-up. Why? Maybe because Sandusky was a long-time loyal colleague and a personal friend. Maybe the luster of the Penn State “brand” had to be protected. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Silence about child rape is complicity.
There are always takeaways in the worst of things. Here are a few I’d suggest:
- Good people do bad things. The good things Joe Paterno did are too numerous to list. So, does this horrible lapse in judgement negate all those good things. No. But the question now seems to be this, “Does the good OUTWEIGH the bad?” No, it doesn’t. And that is true of ALL of us. We are all sinners to the core. Every good thing we do is tainted by our sin.
- Leading ain’t easy. One explanation for Paterno’s inaction is that he “didn’t want to be the one to do it.” He wanted others to stop Sandusky. That’s not leadership. Leadership means making awkward, difficult, sometimes gut-wrenching decisions. It’s why you make more money and get more headlines than those you lead.
- There are predators among us. There are Sanduskys among us. Some are in our town. They have finely-honed predatory instincts, and they know how to make others trust them. Call me paranoid, but if it walks like a perv, quacks like perv, always hangs around younger males while displaying slightly creepy affection like a perv, you better keep your eyes open and protect kids.
- Churches need to put as many safeguards in place as possible, and strictly enforce them. Better safe than sorry. Better safe than popular. Better safe than have an organization’s reputation protected.
- Wrong is wrong, no matter what. Or who. The unanimous outrage toward this mess has been interesting. Where are the folks who say there is no right and wrong? Where is the steady chorus of “You’re not supposed to judge?” Would the level of nausea be different if Sandusky had been a female? Or an androgenous omniracial moon-walking pop star? Just a thought.
- This perversion was once common in the ancient world. It was the influence of Christianity that changed hearts and minds.
Here’s the thing about all of us being twisted and wrecked resulting from the spiritual infection of sin: The gospel of Jesus Christ is the remedy. NOT hoping “the good in us outweighs the bad.” And certainly not covering up embarrassing things that reveal our badness. The remedy is the gospel. The gospel changes people and changes cultures.