09 January 2014
Many things are different…and so many things are the same.
It’s been the best of times, and the worst of times.
Originally, I had stepped into the weblog world looking for a place to tell my stories. My little place sorta morphed into an online scrapbook slash diary. At times a place to rant and vent. Along the way I met a whole bunch of pretty wonderful people.
I’ve been away for a really long time. But I’m making some pretty big changes in my life, and I miss the “fingers to keyboard” therapy. And I miss the wonderful people.
04 September 2012
Ah yes, here it is again. September.
Alluringly deceptive beauty, inviting disregard.
Lulling me at the precarious, perilous, precipice.
Perennial night torment shatters the facade.
Fright stiffened fingers batten down the hatches,
before the past renders me feckless.
Vexing prelude to beloved Autumn.
Hesitantly hopeful, suspending disbelief.
Beg the question, entreat the answer.
Prayerfully negotiate intimate discernment,
22 July 2012
Today, in the aftermath of the legal investigation into who knew what, Penn State has taken down the statue of the great JoePa. And if you’re like me, the only image I can conjure is of American Troops bringing down the statue of Saddam Hussein. An unfair correlation, I grant you.
There is no doubt Joe Paterno was a great man. He did great things for many, many people. But his incredible legacy is forever tarnished by the fact he protected a colleague, who was sexually abusing young boys. And by doing so, he gave his permission for other children to be assaulted.
Here in our idyllic little town of Santa Cruz, thousands of miles away, we don’t hear a lot about college football, most don’t even care about high school football. But to much of our nation, Joe Paterno was an icon. Someone to cheer for. His personal and professional achievements, his generosity and work ethic were to be admired and emulated.
The news of his firing was a breaking news special report, which left me saddened. I thought perhaps he had turned a blind eye, that he was merely guilty by association. At 84, he was close to retirement, and fighting cancer to boot. Like many, I questioned why Penn State didn’t allow him to gracefully resign. I wanted to give JoePa the benefit of the doubt.
Now we know Joe Paterno was “complicit in concealing” first person reports of young boys being sexually abused. He actively used his considerable position and influence to convince other university officials not to report the assaults to the authorities...at least twice, in 1998 and 2001.
My stepdad,( another Joe in his 80’s) has a real difficulty even grasping the concept of an adult sexually abusing a child. The idea is so abhorrent to him, that he just doesn’t get it. He cannot articulate a complete question, “How can....? What sort....?” And he shakes his head as if trying to dislodge even the thought of an adult sexually abusing a child. While he doesn’t understand, he is now aware, and I’d bet he’d never let it be ignored.
Many of us have young people in our daily lives. Friends of our children, or children of our friends. Perhaps our coworkers are teenagers. Perhaps we lead, teach, and coach like JoePa. Most of us care for these kids, and want only the best for them.
But a young person, vulnerable in some way, can be drawn in by a predator who instinctively knows how to “groom” them, using insidious, manipulative behavior to gain trust in order to take advantage. The adult then uses shame and fear and threats as coercion to keep control and continue the abuse.
The lesson of JoePa is a tough one. If you have any reason to wonder if a young person is being mistreated, if the interaction between an adult and a child sets off an alarm for you, then pay attention. You do not have the luxury to be an ostrich with your head in the sand. Joe Pa sets precedent. You don’t get to ignore hearing that somebody is abusing a child, or a teenager. You are required to find out what is going on, or to alert authorities to find out. Even if the abuser is a trusted colleague, or close friend. If you let it continue, you give permission for another to be abused. And the next one could be a child you love.