Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jerry Sandusky and the role of evil

Last month, a Pennsylvania jury convicted Jerry Sandusky of 45 crimes related to child sexual abuse. In recent years, America has become more of an “anything goes” society, and because of this, we have rarely seen the type of sweeping condemnation that has been directed at Sandusky.
In this case, it is justified. In many respects, Sandusky is a nightmare come to life. He is a person who was perceived to be a nice man with a big heart who helped children. He founded an organization specifically set up to help at-risk youth.  Toss in his reputation as a respected football coach at Penn State, and he appeared almost too good to be true.
Of course, he was too good to be true. The almost unbelievable savagery that he inflicted on his victims was remarkable in the worst sense of the word. There is also an on-going investigation about whether Penn State officials knew about some of this and did nothing, then perjured themselves in front of a grand jury investigating Sandusky. So, this case may not quite be done yet.
After all this, there is one final lesson we must take from this case. This lesson is that evil is alive and well in our society. For people trying to understand why a grown man would get his pleasure from sodomizing a 10-year-old boy, there is only one answer: evil.
Though some may think this is a simple-minded approach to understanding this situation, it really is not. Mankind has worked hard in recent years to elevate himself above what he really is. Evil will always tempt us, and sometimes it will try in grand ways that are unimaginable.
Evil manifests itself every day, but we do not always stop to see it. Graphic examples like the Sandusky case grab our attention, but there is a lot more to it than that. Need other examples?  Check out the civil war going on in Syria and the limp noodle attention it is getting from the rest of the world.
Still, we see evil in much more subtle ways. Simply ignoring the needs of those around us is a form of evil that is common, and our hearts have become calloused to the point that some of us simply do not try anymore.
I know those are harsh words. We prefer to think of evil in large and grotesque terms like Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky’s deeds are a king-size example of evil, but when we only look at the obvious examples, it becomes easier to overlook the little things.
If we do not take the time to consider the role of evil in our society and our reaction to it, it becomes that much easier for it to roam free. It may be a cliché to refer to evil as a beast prowling the countryside, but it is not that far off.
Evil destroys everything in its path. It destroys its victims, but also those who did the deeds. If anybody doubts this, go back and review the video of Sandusky the night he was convicted.
As he left the courthouse, he had a bewildered look on his face. He looked like he wanted to say something but did not know what to say. The expression on his face appeared to say: “How did I get here?”
If we are not careful, we all could get to a point where we are asking that exact question. True, none of us may commit crimes as horrible as Sandusky, but we can all make big mistakes that have a tremendous impact on those around us.
So, we better stay on our toes.

No comments: