A Little JoePa In All Of Us

I am guessing that most people are exhausted with the Sandusky/ Penn State story, but I cannot stop thinking about what we can all learn from this tragedy.  It is hard to conceive how reputable people could so easily turn their back when confronted with such evil. Or is it?

We humans have a long history of “selective morality.”  For example, assume that Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who witnessed the rape, had accidentally come across a janitor raping a 10 year-old boy in the shower.  Would his actions been different?  No doubt.  He would have intervened to stop the rape, and would have called the police immediately.  But when he saw that the perpetrator was Coach Sandusky, he chose a very different course of action.

Why?  Coach Sandusky was important to the Penn State Football Program, and the Penn State Football Program was important to Penn State.  Penn State has (had?) a great reputation as an outstanding university, and the Football Program was part of that great reputation (not to mention the tens of million of dollars generated by the Football Program).  All the way to the very top, basic human morals were compromised.

When human beings are happy with the “status quo” all too often they will condone immorality, to protect the status quo.  The compromise may be by an individual, a small group of people, an entire country or a global organization.  We have all seen this behavior to one degree or another in our own lives.  Here are just a few examples that have become part of our history.

Small Group:  The My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War

An entire country:  Germany-The Holocaust

Global Organization:  The Catholic Church

Each example demonstrates the ability of moral people to set aside their morality to protect the status quo.  Most combat soldiers and Marines are appalled when an atrocity is committed.  The vast majority of the Germans were moral people.  And the good and moral work of the Catholic Church is well known.  But the human capacity for ignoring evil exists in everyone.

When the students at Penn State were rioting the other night, it was all about protecting the status quo at Penn State, morality be damned.  I would liked to have asked those students, if 10 years from now when they have children, would they be willing to send their children to a summer camp run by Coach Sandusky?



Filed under Life

3 responses to “A Little JoePa In All Of Us

  1. They weren’t rioting because of Sandusky. They were rioting because they believed the Paterno is taking the fall for the university’s failure to do what it was supposed to do.

  2. Sherif B.

    According to what i know, when the assistant coach witnessed the incident and went up the university chain, he was trying to protect the the institution. When Joe Pa was told and he too went up the chain, he was trying to protect the institution. The President and the Board (that i am sure were aware of this before a forth night ago) were trying to protect the institution. It took a whole week for the media to stop saying “Joe Pa has not been legally implicated and reminds the head coach”. They too, violated their power to be unbiased and respected the institution. And all of a sudden, in a massive PR move to protect the institution, Joe Pa had to be fired. Still, to protect the institution. The truth is, these institutions become so big by exploiting athletes and students (tuition, textbooks, etc) that it took the whole nation a week to snap out of the crap we have been sold for years. And to notice, there were children involved. Same exploitation, but a new low!

  3. Jim

    For those of us who have victims of the Joe Pa’s of the world, when it comes to children, there is no hesitation from this corner of the locker room.

    We must at least occasionally look in the mirror and remember, when we put our own well-being first, whether we work on Wall Street, Main Street or Penn State, innocent people get hurt.

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