I've considered several different ways of saying this. It started out as defensive and sarcastic, but that would have only interfered with the message. I thought about sounding repentant, but capitulation seems to have resulted in no progress at all. So please take this as it is, my words that represent only I, honestly and bluntly (but still trying to maintain some tact).
I get it. I've gotten it for quite awhile now. I've never for an instance considered child abuse to be acceptable or felt like allowing it to happen was excusable. I don't know how else to say it. I feel horrible for the victims and I've put time and effort into helping victim's rights causes and educating myself in hopes of making sure it never happens to those I love. We're on the same page here.
What I don't get is the hatred for our community. I've always felt like Penn Staters have always tried to do what is right. The ideals and mantras I've taken to heart (such as "Character is doing the right thing even when no one is looking" and "Success without honor is like an unseasoned dish. It will fill you up but it won't taste good") have been at the core of decisions and actions I've taken. I'm not trying to pretend that I've been perfect or that I'm always right, but I do believe that the decisions I make are generally good. I sincerely believe that, and I truly believe personal accountability is more important than all else. So what I fail to understand is how those things can result in such resentment. I don't do things for appearance's sake. I'm far less concerned with public opinion and much more concerned with doing what is right. I guess in that regard I can see how it can be met with resentment. It comes across as uncaring and elitist.
So let me set the record straight. I'm not better than anyone else. There are far too many scales to be measured to even attempt a comparison such as that. We all make mistakes and we all have our shortcomings. So what's the point of worrying about it? I feel like throughout this whole ordeal, so many people have used it as a means of elevating themselves over others they deem evil. It's easy to compare yourself to a person at their worst and feel superior, but how do you measure up to them at their best? Which side of the scale carries more weight?
Here's what I'm trying to lay out for you through all this meandering. Penn Staters are a community that value and strive for ideals that we hold dear. Our goal isn't to do things differently, or better. It's to do them right. We're not an exclusive club. You don't have to attend Penn State to belong to our community. All that it takes is honesty. You must be honest with yourself and you must be honest to others, for we learn a lot more after accepting who we are than we learn when pretending to be what we're not.
Like any community that has had to deal with trauma, we are grieving. We're looking for answers and trying to find meaning; reconciling and learning. We as a community do not condone child abuse any more than anyone else. To feel the need to write that is a bit absurd. So let me tell you the things that I "get" that I'm worried not many people do. Child abuse happens everywhere. We're not an exception with our successes and we're not an exception with our faults. I'm not trying to make excuses for it, but I am starting to feel persecuted for it.
There comes a point when enough is enough. This point doesn't mean that I've stopped caring about the victims, or that I am indifferent to child abuse. This point simply means that I'm tired of apologizing for what happened within our community. I'm tired of being judged for it and reminded about it. I'm tired of feeling like my needs are second to those of the victims. I've repented and I've made my contrition. So now that I'm finally here, and I'm ready to move on, please stop holding it against us. What you don't seem to "get' is that we do, in fact, get it. We are in a unique position, because we've had to search our souls and ask ourselves the hard truths. I'm not in denial about what happened. But now please learn from our community so that this doesn't happen in yours. Instead of looking at reasons and excuses for why people acted the way they did, try to understand it through their eyes. When you do that, you will see how surprisingly easy it is to overlook something so glaringly obvious. I'm not trying to say that's what happened, and this was not meant as a defense of anyone but myself. Regardless of the intentions of certain individuals, the truth that it is very easy to overlook still remains. So when I voice an opinion, or try to move on with my life, please don't feel the need to tell me I still don't "get it". I'm proud of my school. I'm proud of this community. I'm proud of my personal accomplishments and the accomplishments of thousands of others who share a common bond. I take pride in that and will always take pride in that. And that pride had nothing to do with allowing the crimes which occurred to happen. So before you dismiss my comments or actions as "not getting it", take a step back and ask yourself if you "get it". I don't have the answers to tell you if I'm right, but at least it couldn't hurt.
This post was inspired by a radio caller today calling in and saying he was a Penn State alumnus. He said he completely agreed with the sanctions and thought they were necessary. He ended the call by saying “I know that we’ll get through this because we’re such a strong community that supports each other. We are Penn State.” Immediately he was hung up on by the hosts at which point the one responded with "You might recover, but the victims won’t. Clearly you still don’t “get it”." Because this person didn't explicitly state he was against child rape, they portrayed him as a child rape enabler and made several remarks about it. I just wanted to make sure that people understand we DO get it, but there comes a point where it’s time to just move on.