a Penn State of mind.

The Penn State Scandal.

Doesn’t this all feel so episodic?  The media dishes these dirty stories out like an American soap opera – quick & ruthless.  The roving eye of justice has once again settled on the next big celebrity.  As a society we’re not quite so interested in the injustice of young boys being molested as we are in who got fired, how and why.  If America lay dying in a hospital room, her IV would be connected to a poisonous concoction of celebrity blood and Reachemol.

It’s almost as if we are all walking in a haze and occasionally slapped back into reality by our own missteps.  Even then, we were more concerned with the legal or moral aspect of Joe Paterno’s obligations than that he was just plain obligated.

I can’t help but wonder how many other staff of Jerry Sandusky‘s organization or Penn State knew of these heinous acts.  Am I to believe that only 3 men were cognizant of Sandusky’s crimes?  America is in a “soul-searching” mode now.  The basic question is, “How could evil be so institutionalized?”  Why didn’t someone speak up before?

I was sitting at a Caribou Coffee to study recently when, in an unexpected way, my blood began to boil.  I had forgotten to bring my headphones and was at the mercy of the banter surrounding me.  I couldn’t help overhearing the two men sitting right next to me.  As I was sitting down, they touched on Penn State but spent the majority of 20 minutes degrading women with stereotypes and tales of debauchery.

They were older, looking to be in their late 40’s and late 50’s.  I can’t remember another time recently where I felt such righteous indignation toward others.  Perhaps it was a combination of my own story and that I work with children which served to stoke my anger toward two strangers.  They traded rants and raves of sexual misadventures and derogatory assumptions of manhood.  While I never heard them say anything explicitly illegal, I recognized something innate to the human soul.

It was sitting beside these two men that I found the answer to the question, “How can men have turned a blind eye to the rape of young boys?”

It’s because Penn State is more than a state university.  It’s a state of being.  It’s that place where secrets are locked away, quiet whispers are indigenous and furtive glances betray guilt.  If you’ve ever watched the show COPS you have seen someone handcuffed and yelling, “What did I do?”  That’s the state of mind that Penn State represents.  It’s where you’re so drunk or high that you don’t know you’re handcuffed to begin with.  The Penn State mind is institutional because it’s innate in human nature.

I won’t say that these two men at Caribou were guilty of something illegal or that they would be quiet if confronted with the horror’s of Jerry Sandusky.  I will say that they, along with the rest of us, can be far more interested in image management and ‘reputation relief’ than the rescue and redemption of young boys or a lost generation at that.  The Penn State of mind manifest.

Somewhere, a guilty coach is breathing a sigh of relief.  On November 5th, JoePa was sacrificed on the altar of “justice”.  The unknown deviant can stay hidden.  We demand the blood of giants for our sense of justice when the simple fact is, it’s the blood of our sons and daughters that are being sacrificed.  The Penn State of mind persists.  We have been shocked back to reality for a moment but will we slowly roll back into our slumber?

I recently heard the angelic voice of Sandra McCracken singing a hymn titled “Justice Will Roll Down.”  Here are the lyrics to that hymn.  Here is to the truth that justice isn’t institutional but it’s personified in the person of Jesus Christ:

Oh my love, you have grown so cold

To the world outside, to the house next door

She who has been loved much, has so much to give

Mercy is the fragrance, of the broken

Justice will roll down, oh justice will roll down

From high upon those mountains with a mighty river sound

It will roll down

It will roll down

Oh my child, I will be your light

In your secret pain, in the dark of night

No enemy, no conqueror, will steal your life from me

I am your salvation, and your victory.

Soon oh soon, when the trumpet sounds

every knee shall bend, every heart will pound

I have made a new world, where the servant is the King

oppression will be over, and the slave set free


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