Thoughts on well-being, sustainability and those things that constitute a good life beyond consumption.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guilty on 45 counts and still counting

Guilty on 45 counts, the headlines greet me early this morning.

I feel sad for the boys, young men, and their families.  Ten, eleven, maybe more.  Even an adopted son, as we found out once the jury went into deliberation.

I feel sad that an institution thought that reputation – of coaches, a team, a place of learning – was more important than helping the next victim or a very troubled adult.

I feel sad that, on the same day, a high-priest, a cardinal’s aide, was found guilty of child endangerment – “imperiling children by helping cover up sexual abuse”, the paper said.

Last night, a friend poised the question on Facebook: “What does massacre mean?” 

This was a questioning of the repeated, worn use of the term “ongoing massacre” for the events in Syria.  He noted the tens of thousands killed around the world each month from everything ranging from conflict to alcohol-related deaths. 

I responded that “It saddens me to think that a human life seems to hold little value for too many.

His ending line still haunts me this sunny morning: 

Words not only define us they determine our ability to think, care and react - or become immune.

Immunity to the violence, whether caused directly by the hands of men, or indirectly from our unwillingness to act.  Butchery caused by war, hatred, greed, malnutrition or water-borne disease.  Even killing in the “name of God”.

Do the details or reasons matter?  There is suffering regardless of the means by which death or abuse is inflicted.  We are no longer surprised by what we read about in the news.  Some even anticipate in some perverse way the headlines that shock.  Imperviousness characterizes our souls, our consciences.

I know that violence has been a curse of the human race for a very long time, at least since we first transitioned from our nomadic ways to the first settlements as we domesticated other animals and the earliest crops. 

Domesticate.  Interesting, that we perhaps have done better taming livestock and companion animals than ourselves.

Perhaps I am sad because, despite all of our wisdom, extraordinary technological advances, and self-proclamations that we are “above” savages and the other animals of the kingdom due to our superior mental abilities and capacity for empathy, we are numb to the violence that surrounds us.  And too many of us still retain the capacity to be barbarous.


  1. And lest anyone thing that the PSU case is an isolated incident:

  2. From the investigative report released on July 12th: “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.” Ouch.

  3. The stories keep coming; the situation keeps getting worse.