The news out of Happy Valley was grim this week. In the wake of a grand jury report detailing sexual abuse of young boys a sports icon was fired. He was not the perpetrator of the crimes. In fact, he reported one incident. But he failed to take the 'extra steps' necessary to stop fiendish acts from recurring. He took the procedural step in the right direction but not the courageous step to ending the abuse once and for all. I'm reminded of the Amelia Earhart quote "Courage is the price life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things."
As I listened to sports radio this week I was stunned by many of the callers. Many claimed to be heroic figures who would have stopped the nonsense in its tracks if they would have observed the heinous crimes being committed. Talk is cheap. In a world filled with a multitude of horrors bar stool heroes are a dime a dozen. Real heroes and heroines don't have time to call in to talk shows or flex their muscles in front of mirrors. No, they are out in the trenches dealing with injustice and not just posing as protectors of the innocent and oppressed.
How many of us lack the courage to step out in faith to stare evil in the face? Too many. We get wrapped up in our comfort and trivial pursuits while all around us people who Jesus loves are being hurt, starved, abused, tortured, enslaved, belittled, and imprisoned? And we do and say nothing. Often, we put our heads in the sand and our hearts and minds on cruise control and refuse to look at the world the way Jesus sees it. It's wrong and it's sinful.
Joe Paterno said that he should have done more. He's right. But he got caught up in worshipping an idol he helped create ...big time college football. And in order to right the wrong his coach created he would have had to take his eye off the idol and do the right thing even if it meant knocking the Penn State football idol off it's pedestal. He didn't. And now he is suffering the consequences of it all. It's sad because I think Paterno did a lot of good along the way. But in this instance he lacked the courage to the right thing, in the right way.
There have been times in my life when I've been courageous and stood up to evil. There have also been times when I backed away and wallowed in varying degrees of cowardice. As hard as the courageous times were (and they usually are) I don't ever regret stepping up. My times of cowardice carry deep regret as its reward.
To those abused at Penn State we send our prayers that a good God will heal them. May justice be swift for the perpetrators. And for us ...may we open our eyes to the evil around us and may we rise up to become the answers to the prayers of those who suffer.