Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Case of Penn State and Joe Paterno

It keeps happening. In the news we hear of yet another case of child molestation. This time it is not a case of Vatican-sanctioned cover-up, but it is the same old story of an old boys club that seems to think that its own Very Important Business is best preserved by keeping quite about abuse. Of course, today's story comes from the holy magisterium of college football, and involves the firing of the great Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno.

Some say Paterno did what was legally required in reporting what he knew to let others deal with it, others say that it was a moral failure that nothing else was done. Some are hailing Penn State's decision to fire the coach as an great moral decision on the part of the university, while others explain that the university is only protecting is vast financial interests in the football industry. One more sacrifice offered to keep their power in the game.

Old Boys Club, economic and institutional power, protection of corporate interests  these are a familiar and recurring theme as cases of child sexual abuse continue to come to light. It is shocking and embarrassing to hear of these things, and it is an outrage that these abuses occur within our society. If there is any silver lining that I can see it is the fact that were are much more aware as a society that these abuses should not occur.

I wrote the following poem in 2002, after being troubled by increasing reports of sexual abuse of children by clergy. I first posted it on my blog on January 29, 2010. I stated then that my consolation was "at least now we are aware of the problem and are calling people to account. In many ways, we are progressing in areas of ethics, enlightenment and compassion." I present the poem again today in the hope that we will continue to try to do better in moving toward a society that works and a public consciousness that protects its vulnerable citizens.

Slowly God Arises

And slowly God arises
Arising, God turns
Pulling up tent stakes,
Cracking the foundation
And loosening the ties
Of a stagnant civilization.

One turn showed us not to enslave.
Another turn gave honor to women.
Yet another turn showed us
Not to send our children to factories and fields,
   forfeiting their lives for illicit capital gain.

Now the turn shows us
To respect our children
And to protect them from harm.

And slowly God arises
Until a new awareness comes;
An awareness that children have been crippled
By the abusive actions of people we trusted.
No longer can we tolerate such abuse.

Slowly God arises.
Arising, God turns;
Cracking the foundation of tradition,
Breaking the bonds that held us.

With each turn
We are astounded.
Why did we not see this before?
How could we have let this happen?
Yet with each turn
We see that we cannot go back.
Astounded by sight
Loosed by light,
We walk at a new level
As slowly God arises
And rising, God turns.

The church did not show us.
Governments never called for justice
Until sight came upon the people
And scattered throughout the land.
"Just as the lightening comes from the east
    and flashes into the west..."
But none can stop the rising
And the turning of a new day.

And slowly God arises.
Arising, God turns
Carrying the pain and the hope
Of broken bonds and shattered illusions.
Arising, God turns
To present us with the challenge of a new day,
To walk on a different level.
We are astounded by sight
And loosed by light
As slowly God arises.

                               ~ Charles Kinnaird

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...