To date, TheMotivationRoom.com has served as a forum to collect and provide access to some of the best thoughts, quotes, videos, images, and ideas that may motivate us to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. Being a Penn State University graduate, and having read through the 426 Media reports bashing PSU, the 3,243 status updates, or the 319 “We Are Penn State” or “To the non-Penn Staters” memos proclaiming Penn State pride, I can’t help but make a few comments. If writing is therapeutic, consider this the only possible way to organize the extreme emotions running through the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, myself included.
Forget everything you know about the aforementioned articles, memos, and reports. Let’s get real. For starters, I am surprised Jerry Sandusky is still alive. He should be brought to the 50-yard line of Beaver Stadium and beaten to a pulp by the victims, their families, and every member of the student body, and if he’s still kicking, he should be taken through every pledge program at PSU one by one, and then dropped off in Afghanistan so he can fight a real battle, get thrown in a cold shower and tortured until he fully comprehends how he singlehandedly sparked a national uproar and total Penn State transformation…and more importantly, permanently affected the well-being of 6, 8, 10, or more young lives.
Please recognize that I have Penn State in my blood just like the rest of you, and all of this constant PSU news has made it impossible to not experience the intense nostalgia that is Penn State. In front of a TV or driving in a car in Philadelphia, I have breathed in the smells of State College, heard the chatter of a Saturday morning walk by McLanahans, and envisioned myself passing Willard on my left, hanging a right to the HUB, and getting lost in a place bigger than life itself; a small town with a big heart, and a happy valley that has served as the grounds for some of the best memories hundreds of thousands of “kids” have ever had. I, too, have thought about all the lifelong friends I met Freshman year, the East Halls quad, the tailgates, and of course the camaraderie and intense feeling of belonging you experience as 1 of 100,000 in Beaver Stadium, all with the same goal. These are all things that will never be taken away, but being a Penn State graduate, I was also taught about more important matters, like life itself.
I totally empathize with the star-struck, Stockholm Syndromatic statements that many Penn Staters have made the past few days defending Joe Paterno’s legacy, and trying to argue that his legacy is more than just one bad decision. I get that, I really do, and no one likes a happy ending more than I do, but there’s a big problem with this mindset. The fact is that there are very few people on this earth that reach a Joe Paterno status. When you are Joe Paterno, you call the shots. You set the pace. You command the troops. You use that status Joe and you use that goddamn status to do the right thing because you, and only you, can make something happen. And Joe, you didn’t do it…and there is no rationalizing, and no excuses, and there is no hindsight, because your foresight was needed, and you failed. You failed the legacy you built, the people you led, and the kids who needed you. For once in your life, you were an Average Joe, when the world needed the Joe we would expect. There is a quote by Guru of Gangstarr that goes like this: “Actions have reactions, don’t be quick to judge / You may not know the hardships people don’t speak of / It’s best to step back, and observe with couth / For we all must meet our moment of truth.” And I get that too! We are all far from perfect, but we are also not Joe Paterno, and fair or unfair, IT IS WHAT IT IS. As Joe himself has been quoted to say, “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.” Wow.
I will leave you with a few lines from the movie “A Few Good Men” that come to mind when talking about this situation.
Private Downey- What did that mean Hal?
Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red.
What did we do wrong?
Corporal Dawson- It’s not that simple.
Private Downey – We did nothing wrong!
Corporal Dawson – Yeah, we did.
We’re supposed to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves.
We were supposed to fight for Willy.
Joe, you were supposed to fight for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves. You were supposed to fight for PSU.
Friends, Foes, Penn Staters, and Non Penn Staters – Penn State is certainly bigger than Joe Paterno, it is bigger than Football, and it is bigger than riots, reports, memos, and articles. As we have seen from the candlelight vigil and significant donations already made, Penn State is about the experience each one of us has had there, it’s about our ability to always go back to the place where great memories were made, and it’s about the great things that our experience will continue to inspire us to do to make the world a better place.