Saturday, July 28, 2012


Oh boy.
There used to hang a poster in my classroom that stated "Stand up for what is right, even if you're standing alone." I have always, always encouraged my students to speak their minds and speak them well--and that everyone has a right to be heard, if not agreed with. For example, my parents are pretty conservative, and I tend to lean left in most of my philosophies. But I love my parents, and they love me, and we just sort of agree to disagree. We listen to each other, and often tease each other for our differences of opinions, but ultimately know that we digress. And that's OKAY.
So when Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, first stood up for what he believed in by stating his opinion against gay marriage, I thought fine. While I completely disagree with him, he's entitled to his beliefs. It's not like he was preventing homosexuals from working in his restaurants or buying his food. My refusing to eat his delicious food is not going to change his mind.
But then I find that he has given quite a bit of money to blatantly anti-gay organizations. Now this was a different matter. I CAN choose to put my money where my mouth is--and as a supporter of marriage equality AND tolerance, I can say no more Chick-Fil-A for my family. (And I LOVE their food.)
There has been a great deal of name-calling and fighting in the land of FB on this matter. (FB, for all its wonderful ways of connecting people, unfortunately has also brought out the armchair activist and passive-aggressive politico in many of us.) Lots of right-wing fire and brimstone spouting a la: "you think you can bring down a righteous Christian organization by not eating their chicken nuggets? HEE-HAW in yo' devil-courtin' face!" Likewise, my liberal friends are calling Dan Cathy all kinds of nasty names.
Well, I don't expect to bring down this organization. Nor will I picket outside their restaurants or post nasty memes on my FB wall. But I learned from a young age that you can choose which businesses you can support, simply based on principle. My parents boycotted Breyer's Ice Cream and Scott paper products for years, after the companies were sold and taken over by corporations that fired many of their longtime local employees. My dad had taught the sons of some of these workers in Chester, so in a quiet show of support, our family stopped buying these products. Similarly, when my husband was coaching basketball in New York, he refused to let his boys play in a Nike tournament due to their sweatshop practices (and calmly explained to the boys his reasons.)
We make choices every day about what kind of people we want to be, and what we want our children to be. My parents taught me a quiet, personal, respectful way to protest in the form of boycotting. I will do the same for my kids, too. And in this case, I believe the truly CHRISTIAN principle of loving our brothers and sisters is not being supported by Mr. Cathy.
But I sure will miss those addictive little chicken nuggets. :(

Monday, July 23, 2012

The 900-lb. Gorilla

Can all the good a man does in his lifetime be erased by one bad decision?
That's the question I keep pondering throughout this entire Penn State debacle. Early yesterday morning, the bronze statue of Joe Paterno was dismantled. There was much debate over the fate of this sculpture. Some editorials in the Inquirer suggested leaving the statue, but turning his head the other way--to signify his apparent indifference to the Sandusky scandal. Others suggested adding a small figure of a weeping boy. But the university president ultimately chose to remove the figure completely, stating that its presence was ultimately divisive.
I have no problem with this for several reasons. One, I'm not entirely sure why anyone deserves a statue while they're still living--it seems like premature canonization (and I couldn't help but think "golden calf" every time I saw this image.) Second, as a mother and educator, I say good riddance. This man, while not a perpetrator himself, certainly seemed to hide one for quite some time--thus putting dozens of children in harm's way.
What gets me is the slightly disturbing reaction from PSU alums. Now, I am not an alum myself, so I don't completely understand/appreciate the reverence people feel for this institution and man. But I read one account of a woman weeping and wailing, "The outside world doesn't understand what we're feeling. Our hearts are breaking."
You want to talk hearts breaking? May I point you towards the twenty young men whose innocence and childhoods were stolen from them? The mothers who are ruing the day they ever let their sons near Jerry Sandusky, thinking they had found a strong father figure? The countless other victims of abuse who will always remain silent, out of fear, shame, or despair?
I'm aware that JoePa was a dedicated coach, teacher, philanthropist, etc. I feel awful for his wife and children, and the legacy that is now left in ruins. But I also feel that it is dangerous to let anyone--no matter how much good they do--rise to such a position of power that they start to feel and act as though they are infallible. We are all human; no one is above reproach.
And the saddest part matter how many people are fired, how many penalties the NCAA imposes, or how many times JoePa's name and image are erased from buildings or plaques, none of this will take back what Jerry Sandusky did to those children.
Now THAT breaks MY heart.