A lesson from Happy Valley

They call it “Happy Valley.”  But the sex abuse scandal that is rocking the Penn State community is frightening and heartbreaking on so many levels.  There is plenty of news coverage and opinion out there, and I’m not going to wade into the nuances of the story, who’s right and who’s wrong, because it’s not really part of the scope of our discussion here.

I just want to point out one thing in the context of our work for justice.

Think your voice doesn’t make a difference? Any one of the people who were fired could have called the police.  Any one of the administrators who passed the buck could and should have spoken up.  Who knows how many other people saw something that made them pause, and didn’t speak up?

There are systemic issues at play here, related to power and authority and a hierarchy that puts a premium on the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the whole.  But the bottom line is that it would only have taken one voice to have blown the whistle as early as 1994.  That’s nearly 20 years that the victims of Sandusky’s abuse could have been working on healing from their trauma instead of living in silence and fear.  Who knows how many children would have escaped his abuse had he been investigated then.

Do you remember that old parable about the old man and the starfish?

One morning an elderly man was walking on a nearly deserted beach. He came upon a boy surrounded by thousands and thousands of starfish. As eagerly as he could, the youngster was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.

Puzzled, the older man looked at the young boy and asked, “Little boy, what are you doing?”

The youth responded without looking up, “I’m trying to save these starfish, sir.”

The old man chuckled aloud, and queried, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

Holding a starfish in his hand, the boy turned to the man and, gently tossing the starfish into the water, said, “It will make a difference to that one!”

(source unknown) I borrowed this particular version from this website.

Use your voice, friends.

It will certainly make a difference to someone.

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