It only takes a moment.
That should be one of the lessons learned from the terrible events unveiled in the Penn State child molestation accounts this last week. Yes, the tragedy raises awareness of sexual abuse and how it should be handled, but I saw another powerful lesson for both children and adults.
I am not a fan of Penn State or any team in the Big 10, but as a college football fan, I know the respect and stature that Joe Paterno had in the college football scene. He had been with Penn State for the last 62 years, longer than many of the college footballs fans have been alive. He was a staple of College football on Saturday. It wasn’t uncommon to hear other coaches speak of the honor it was to play his team and to be on the field with him. He had spent years building a brand in the college football world. A statue has even been erected in his honor on the Penn State campus, something that doesn’t often happen during one’s life, not to mention while someone is still actively involved in his career. Joe Paterno was a living icon to many.
This past week, Joe Paterno and Penn State has made headline news as a terrible story of child molestation and people turning a blind eye were unveiled. I don’t know all the details of what happened back in 2002. I don’t know what Joe Paterno was told by Mike McQueary or what information he passed onto the Athletic Director, Tim Curley. There are many details that no one outside of a select group knows. But, I do know that Joe Paterno made a choice.
It’s not even important what Paterno’s choice was. He might have chosen a friendship over the word of a graduate assistant. He might have chosen to try to protect the image of Penn State and the football program so the world wouldn’t know what a retired coach had done in the locker rooms. He might have chosen to deal with a terrible situation as minimally as possible in hopes that he wouldn’t have to face the truth. Paterno is really the only one who knows what his real choice was. But, in those few days or hours, Paterno made a decision that will impact his entire life and change the legacy he worked a lifetime to build.
All of us are faced with situations and choices of how to deal with them each day. Hopefully most of us will never face a decision of how to handle the report of a friend sexually molesting a child, but we will most likely face a situation that will impact and shape our lives. How we react to that situation and the choices we make are very important. We might not recognize the importance of our actions for days, weeks, or even decades. But we can recognize that during these moments, we have a choice of how to define our lives and our character.
It only takes a moment to make decision that can impact our lives and lives of those around us. I pray that I have the strength of character to make the right decision, even when it is not an easy decision. I also pray that I am able to teach my children how important their decisions, actions, and inactions can be.
_____________________________________________________________Sheri Schrier is my wife. The mother of our two beautiful boys. And the reason I am the man I am today. She is my coach, cheerleader, and first critic. If it doesn’t pass her muster, I don’t post it. I wouldn’t be embarking on this mad journey if not for her support and conviction. She also works her butt off as a Business Analyst for a major millwork company. She brings home the bacon and fries it up in a pan… <I’ll let you finish the rest.> In short, she’s Wonder Woman without the invisible jet. Why? Because she doesn’t need one. You can follow her on Twitter here: @sherischrier.