"Dad, why did they fire Joe Pa? He didn't do anything wrong." While we were watching ESPN's coverage of the firing of Joe Paterno (legendary PSU head football coach), our son asked that question. The question was a big time question. When Drew asked me that, I have to admit that it came from left field. I wasn't quite prepared ... I wasn't thinking in that vein. But it was a good question, one that he and his team-mates would discuss later that day at football practice.
Let's be honest, the firing of Joe Pa is insignificant when compared to the REAL tragedy at Penn State. As I said yesterday, "My heart breaks for those boys and their families who have been victimized and have lived through a horrible nightmare of epic proportions. If these charges on Jerry Sandusky are true, thank the Lord an monster has been removed from our society. The context of Drew's question came when they were talking about the firing of Joe Pa on ESPN.
So here's what I told him. It's what we've always told our kids. "It's always right to do what's right." Your emotions should not factor in to your decision to do the right thing. Right emotions FOLLOW right action, not the other way around.
Joe Paterno said it himself, "I wish I had done more." "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
In the movie "A Few Good Men", there a some great one-liners. One of the most popular occurs when the crime is revealed and Jack Nicholson (Col. Jessup) screams at Tom Cruise (Officer Kaffey) and says, "You can't handle the truth!!" We all know and love that line. But there was a bigger lesson in this story. And I think that lesson applies here.
At the end, there is an amazing dialogue that takes place between the two men who were on trial named Dawson & Downey. When it was revealed that Col Jessup was the one who committed the crime, Dawson & Downey expected to go free. But when the charges were handed down, both men were dishonorably discharged. Watch this
Downey: “What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong.”
Dawson: “Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.”
Edwin Burke said it best when he stated, “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
It's ALWAYS right to do what's right
It's ALWAYS right to fight for the underdog.
It's ALWAYS right to stand in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square.
It's ALWAYS right to fight for those who can't fight for themselves.
So, with all due respect, Coach Joe Paterno should've followed through on those claims and accusations. He should've used his influence to make sure Sandusky was never around young boys again.
"That's why he was fired, Drew. Coach Paterno was supposed to fight for the Willies of the world. As a matter of fact, we all are."