As more and more details come forth about the exposure so many adults had to the horrid acts of Jerry Sandusky I find myself feeling sickened, appalled, and to be honest, very judgmental. I would guess that I am not alone. The thoughts running through my head seem to be similar to those of anyone else I’ve heard discuss this story. “How did all of those people stay quiet?” “How do you sleep at night knowing that your inaction is allowing such abhorrent acts to go on without consequence?” “Did they really think their reputation was more important than protecting these young children from such atrocious acts?”
After some soul searching the answer I’ve come to is “no.” No, the people that were aware of the destruction these children were facing did not allow themselves to think that their inaction was allowing it to continue. This situation is differed responsibility at its worst. I would guess that the people who were in the know about the crimes being committed against the innocent allowed themselves to water down what was happening. I assume that they hoped that the story was distorted or exaggerated, told themselves that whatever happened was over and therefore couldn’t be prevented and allowed themselves to assume that someone else would blow the whistle. The outrage so many of us feel at what was allowed to happen at Penn State is natural and good but for those of us far removed from the justice system of Centre County it doesn’t have any power. Where our power lies is in looking in the mirror and into our immediate surroundings and identifying the voiceless in need of our own vocal outrage.
I believe, and most certainly hope, that most of us do not and will not encounter acts as horrific as those that occurred at Penn State but I know without a doubt that we all brush against the defenseless quite regularly and that we need not turn the other way. I’ve walked to another aisle in the grocery store to avoid the angry adult hitting their child. I’ve assumed someone else would speak out about the teacher who berates children in her classroom or the coach who is physically abusive with his young players. I've watered down things that I knew in my gut where boldly wrong and I've passively waited for a more courageous whistle blower to save me from having to bear the weight of doing the right thing. I'm working on turning that around in myself and hopefully in others around me as well.