I take everything personally. Let’s start with that.
I have nothing more to say about McQueary or Paterno as individuals that I didn’t say in my Heroes post.
I want to speak to the outrage that people are hurling around. I want to say to that monstrous outrage—Good!
Sit with your horror and your outrage, and promise everyone that you would do differently, if it had been you.
Sit with that theoretical you until you know every scratch and pimple and throbbing vein on it. See how strong and powerful that hypothetical you is.
And now, step up. Step into that you.
Because it is you.
You will not rest. You will not take the easier, more comfortable decision. You will not rely on your father or your mother or your boss or your lawyer or your politician.
You will stand up and be present. You will not run away, you will not be beaten down, you will not be frightened or subdued or conciliatory or rational or wrong.
You will be aware, and you will step up and you will speak out and you will comfort and—most of all—you will listen. You will believe. You will consider. You will act in the best interests of the weak and the ostracized and the power-less-than-yous.
Take your outrage and use it to power the construction of a world that is bigger than a coward’s heart or a locked room or an unhappy valley or a bruised institution.
Please, whatever you do, don’t use that outrage to distance yourself.
Don’t use it to reassure yourself how much better you are than any of the characters in this story, how you don’t need to consider your own (un)comfortable silences and (almost) good enoughs.
We are all persons, stuck with our humanity.
The problem with the inhumane among us is not just that they hurt and betray others. What makes their actions monstrous is they create situations where other humans are forced to choose between betrayal or betrayal, with no grace or glory in the terrible, hurtful consequences of either action.
And no one involved in that pain-choked choice comes away unscathed, or with all their humanity intact.
Don’t just choose to be strong. Choose to help the weak.
Choose to have eyes that see and ears that hear.
Choose to create choices for others that include love and support and community, so that eventually—some day, not in this crisis moment, but maybe it could be sooner rather than later—there can be something that feels like healing, even though the pain never completely goes away.
Personally, I would thank you for it.