Joe Paterno

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Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...

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It is with regret that I must withdraw my earlier version of this post. I suggested that before all the facts came out, people should not prejudge Joe Paterno. Now the facts are coming out, and sadly, tragically the facts apparently reveal that Mr. Paterno’s actions allowed Mr. Sandusky to continue to abuse young boys for years after Mr. Paterno and the administration knew about the abuse.  Mr. Paterno did more than fail to report Mr. Sandusky to the police—that is a sin of omission. E-mails strongly suggest that the administration was going to contact Child Welfare until Mr. Paterno suggested otherwise. This is a sin of commission, requiring an active effort to circumvent the process that would have, had Mr. Paterno not intervened, stopped Mr. Sandusky in his tracks.  I do not know why Mr. Paterno would do such a thing. Was it friendship with Mr. Sandusky? Was it an attempt to protect the football program? Was it an attempt to protect his own reputation? If the latter, why would Mr. Paterno have so little common sense that he forgot the Bible verse, “Be sure, your sin will find you out.” I have my disagreements with Augustine, but he was correct, I think, in holding that evil is utterly irrational since it marks turning away from the highest good due to pride. It may be that Mr. Paterno’s pride in the football program and his accomplishments, along with his friendship with Mr. Sandusky, led him astray. Ultimately only God knows a man’s motives; we humans can make our best guesses. Mr. Paterno made a grievous error, and due to the horrific consequences of his error, the abuse of God knows how many young boys, his legacy is permanently tarnished if not destroyed. No one should be seduced by one’s achievements, by one’s job, by one’s legacy, or by loyalty to a friend, in a way that the preservation of such requires ignoring evil actions that harm the innocent.

Americans’ Failure to Grow Up

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Greuze, Jean-Baptiste - The Spoiled Child - lo...

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A seventy-year-old man spouts off moral relativism like a college sophomore. A forty-year-old woman throws a temper tantrum at a store. Young people demand pay and benefits but are unwilling to do the job for which they were hired. Marriages break up under the strains of self-centeredness of one or both partners, a self-centeredness that is so extreme that it rivals that of a six-year-old. Teenagers demand, and permissive parents allow, them near total freedom to engage in destructive behavior such as alcohol and drug abuse as well as sexual promiscuity.

Since the end of World War II, the United States has produced multiple generations of spoiled, lazy children who grow up to become spoiled, lazy adults. One reason that it is unlikely that federal spending will not be controlled is adults’ lust for government handouts and benefits. The baby boomers and their successors are so self-centered that they do not care what happens to their children or grandchildren. All that matters is “me, me, me, now, now, now.” Is it any surprise when these selfish people reach old age that their children, reared in the image of their parents, cart their parents off to a nursing home and have little to do with them? Is it a surprise when schools cannot discipline unruly children because their parents threaten to sue the school if such discipline takes place? Even though there remain millions of people in the United States who have not bowed down their knees to the Ba’al of self-centeredness, enough people are self-centered that the country has been severely damaged, perhaps irreparably, by their irresponsiblity. The steel and auto industries, caring only about profits in the present, did not spend money to upgrade their facilities, and either went under or outsourced much of their work forces to other countries.

Probably the worst product of self-centeredness is moral relativism, a denial of any objective moral values above the individual self, or in the case of a less radical relativism, above the level of the culture. Moral relativism poisons a society, making it unable to make basic moral distinctions once taken for granted. A woman gets pregnant and murders her child through abortion–she wants the joy of sex (as does the man) without the responsibility. A man desires to have sex with a man; instead of making the effort to refocus his sexual desires on women, he fulfills his immediate desire and claims that it is normal and morally right. A couple want to spice up their sex lives and get involved in swinging, “threesomes,” and orgies. A Wall Street banker justifies misusing others money by his view that morality should suit him, not others. Egoism is the brother of relativism, especially subjectivism, for people who locate moral standards only in the individual self will only be concerned for their supposed self interest. I have seen how the poison of subjective moral relativism has reduced some students to blithering idiots in any discussion of morality–“well, this is just my opinion;” “there’s no real right or wrong answer here,” “morality depends on what you think it is, but somebody else might think something different, and that’s okay, too.” Such ignorance should be called out for what it is: spoiled children wanting to be promiscuous or get drunk or do other unethical activities without anyone “judging” them for their behavior. The problem with the United States is not only economic; it is moral and spiritual. Unless the main problems can be solved the economy will, in the long run, fail. Community will fail if people only follow their individual standards and seek only their own self-interest. The end state of the current course of American’s spoiled adults will be anarchy, Hobbes‘ state of nature, in which life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” A dictator may restore order, but without any transcendent vision above the will to power this will only be a short-term “solution” to the problem of people who believe themselves to be atomistic individuals. Once John Locke’s vision of government was secularized, the inevitable logic of his atomistic view of people led to mass relativism, mass egoism, and extended childhood. There is always hope that people will see the emptiness of a life based only on a child-like self-assertion and that people will return to a mature view in which they are responsible for themselves and for other people dependent on them,  and in which they base their values on something that transcends their own selfish desires. If that does not happen, then God help the United States of America.