Are you familiar with New York City drivers? If you are not, let me tell you…they are ruthless. Taxis dart in and out, professional drivers race each other, and even us ordinary people feel a competitive edge on the road.
Last night I had a driver who broke all the “New York City” rules. While others were going 80, he was going 30. Where others saw danger in traffic jams, he plowed right into them. Not only was he an inadequate driver, but he created life-threatening situations for his passenger. That said, he was also stubborn, rude, and defiant. His mantra: he knew what he was doing, he was driving, and it was not my business.
As I emerged from the car, it did become my business. I had to wrestle with my conscience – should I make a phone call to report this driver? Do I want to be responsible for this man losing his job? Or should I let the next person be the one to report him? Obsessively following my thoughts, my conscience jumped to the Penn State debacle.
Did the officials at Penn State face a similar dilemma of conscience, or were they able to dismiss doubts and better judgment? It may be a leap to go from a dangerous driver to child abuse, but both involve crises of conscience, albeit different ends of the spectrum.
In the case of the driver, there is room for question: maybe he had a bad day. But in the case of Penn State and where child abuse is concerned, there is no room for questions. The sexually abused child most often feels helpless and it is, without a doubt, our moral responsibility as adults to protect our children (even if they’re not necessarily yours).
The shame falls on all of us because ultimately we live in a community. In order to assure the health of the next generation, we have to take care of them both mentally and physically. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”