Saving Face, Losing Grace

On November  9th 2011 Penn State fired the University President, and Joe Paterno  (football coach). The sins of omission[1] (not doing what we should have), must be a dreadful cross to bear, when a rampaging pedophile is allowed to continue his predatory behavior unabated. These men placed the “public image” of an organization ahead of the safety of potential victims, and ironically have served to forever associate the reputation of the institution with a backdrop of incredible bad judgment, and selfish self-preservation. Happy Valley will never be the same.

As a young man I heard stories about a priest who abused young boys in a remote Caribbean village. My first question was, “Why didn’t the villagers raze the church?”.  The priest himself fled to another parish, a move that later became understood as the norm, or modus operandi for the Catholic Church.  Thinking as a parent, my second response would have been to call the police!

As a young teenager, a teacher targeted several of my classmates.  At the time the daring escapes made for wild speculation.  The teacher was reported but while he was removed from teaching our particular class, he was transferred to a younger class. In hindsight the lack of a zero tolerance policy inevitably led to tragic consequences.

What does it say when the leaders of schools, and church, arguably the bastions of our value systems, possess little or no ability to sift through seemingly clear deviations from legal, or humane behavior.  These episodes hit hard at the core of our societies, reflecting degenerate behaviors, but predators of children don’t get free passes. Silence isn’t always golden, and sometimes simply signifies complicity.

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