I didn’t go to Penn State, but I did grow up in Pennsylvania. PSU is central to my identity as a PA native. I met my first “real” love on the PSU campus. Outside of the Steelers, I grew up watching Penn State games every weekend. Thus, although I know none of what I’m about to say is new, I still have to say it.
Paterno/PSU’s failure to do the right thing for the child/children in question is heinous, but it isn’t shocking. If there’s one thing this tragedy has taught us (or reminded us), it’s that we can’t expect people to do the right thing. Ever. No matter how clear the “right thing” might seem. All we can do is commit to being better than those people are as we move forward with our lives.
Thus, in the wake of the media frenzy, I feel compelled to stay grounded in the following:
Saying a prayer for the victims, wherever they may be, in hopes that they will heal and move forward with their lives.
Promising myself that if I’m ever in a situation where I witness a wrong-doing, I’ll be stronger, and better, than Paterno was. That I’ll stand up for what’s right, no matter what the fall-out might be.
Teaching my children to be their own advocates. To stick up for themselves. Making sure they know that no one is allowed to hurt them – regardless of their position of authority.
Hugging them. Every minute if possible.
Teaching them about right and wrong, and that sometimes the right decision isn’t the easiest.
Making sure they know they can come to me – always – no matter what problem they are facing.
Making sure they know they can count on me to protect them. Always.
Asking them questions if I sense something is off. And asking again (and again), even if they tell me everything is fine.
Teaching them that there are lots of different ways to ‘be a man’ or to ‘be strong’ – including admitting when something is wrong.
Never assuming, ever – ever – ever – that someone will treat my children with the same love and respect I give them, no matter who that person is, or how highly regarded they might be.
Those things might seem obvious, but – as we’ve all learned from this story – so do a lot of things.