Have trust in Life, do what you know is right, and don't be deluded by fearful thinking!
My story today is a parable — though taken absolutely from true life. It's the story of how the people in charge of a famous, major American university allowed one of their football coaches to molest children for more than a decade, because the fame and prestige and money generated by the football program were more important to them than the children who were being molested.
After 12 or 13 years of pretending not to know what was going on, these people were finally confronted with the truth when the story became public through other channels. Then the President, Vice President, Athletic Director, and Head Football Coach all lost their jobs. The jobs, in fact, were the least of it. Much more importantly, they lost their good reputations; they lost the trust and respect of everyone around them; and most importantly of all, they lost their self-respect. The football program and the entire university also lost respect. In every case, the restoration of that respect will be very difficult at best, if even possible.
I won't refer to these people by name — because I have no desire to drag them through the mud, they've had plenty of that already. Their names and stories are everywhere nowadays: newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. In case you've been comatose for the past few months, or on another planet, and you really feel a need for personal names in the story ... just look at almost any periodical published in the past 6 months (in print or online)....
The reason I'm writing about this at all, even without personal names, and even on a site devoted to sex and romance and beauty, is that the story is such a phenomenal parable for every one of us. I can't think of anything in recent memory that is such a fantastic illustration of the importance of Always Doing What Is Right! It applies to every one of us in every situation.
In this case, the seeds of destruction were sown by one Assistant Football Coach, when he embarked on a career of molesting children. Some people may argue that the Coach didn't know wrong from right, or else he never would have done it. I have to admit, that's a possibility — but the jurors in his trial apparently decided that was not the case; they found him guilty of 45 criminal charges, which may add up to a prison sentence of as much as 442 years!
The destruction grew when the Head Football Coach, the Athletic Director, and the Vice President and President of the university learned about the molestations and took no action to stop them from continuing ... and kept the truth of the whole situation to themselves. This was clearly a case of knowing the right thing to do, and deliberately not doing it. In fact, it's been revealed that the Athletic Director, Vice President, and President were about to notify the police of the situation in 2001 ... but then, after a meeting with the Head Coach, they all decided to keep quiet.
The Head Coach was such a living legend, his name was practically synonymous with the word "football" throughout the U.S.A. He was the "winningest coach" in Division 1 college football history, and his place at the top assured the university of recruiting the best players, receiving the highest payments for television broadcasts, etc. He was such a legend, there was even a larger-than-life, 900-pound, bronze statue of him outside the football stadium! (Eerily enough, the statue was created in 2001, the same year of the Head Coach's now-infamous meeting with his superiors, in which they all agreed to keep the lid on the child-molestation story.)
His own fame and prestige (and ego?) were so enormous, the Head Coach fell into the delusion of FEAR. He decided that the reputation and legacy of himself and the football program and the university were the most important things in the whole landscape — more important than the very lives of children who were being molested — and that he would protect these reputations and legacies by keeping the molestations a secret.
This is the most perfect example of how our thinking is deluded by fear, that you could ever want to see. And a perfect example of FEAR being (as someone so brilliantly observed) False Expectations Appearing Real.
Had the Head Coach been thinking clearly, he could have seen that Doing The Right Thing — reporting the molestations to police — would not have tarnished his reputation or that of the university football program. The only person tarnished would have been the Assistant Coach who was doing the molesting. The children involved (and those at risk of molestation in the future) would have been protected ... and the Head Coach would almost surely have become even more revered and respected, for having done what was right!
However, deluded by his fears, the Head Coach tried to rig the game, to guarantee the outcome he wanted. It took 10 years for the truth to catch up with him ... but, when it did catch up, the price he paid was literally everything but his soul...! His calculated attempts to protect his reputation and legacy resulted in exactly the opposite, exactly what he had feared the most!!
He was fired and publicly excoriated by the university. Immediately after that, he was diagnosed with cancer ... and, barely more than 2 months later, he was dead. Now, posthumously, he has been stripped of his "winningest coach" title; 111 of his football victories have been scrubbed from the record books; and his larger-than-life statue has been taken down and hauled away (as quietly as possible, very early one Sunday morning).
Most likely, nothing that can happen now will ever be able to remove the stain from his name. How's that for a legacy?! His family and friends are tainted as well, just by association with him. The university football program and the entire university have been devastated (a $60-million fine levied by the NCAA, a 4-year ban on playing in post-season football games, the stripping of all football victories dating back to 1998, a reduction in the number of football scholarships that can be offered, etc., etc.).
What comes to mind at this moment is the famous line attributed (maybe mythically) to a young baseball fan, addressed to "Shoeless Joe" Jackson as he was leaving the courthouse after testifying about the 1919 Chicago "Black Sox" scandal: "Say it ain't so, Joe." Ah, but it is....
It's such a simple thing, Always Doing What We Know Is Right. The only thing that ever keeps us from doing it is FEAR. Fear is a lack of trust in the divine providence of Life. As long as we surrender to Life and really trust that it will take good care of everything, we automatically do what we know is right in every situation. But, if we lose our trust in Life, then we come to believe that we are smarter than Life itself, or that we need to "stack the deck" in our favor. And that is the beginning of big trouble for us ... because Life is a flawless accountant, and Life doesn't like anyone messing with the bookkeeping ... and, if anyone ever thinks they're "getting away with something," they are merely deluding themselves. The truth always rises to the top eventually, and the penalty for trying to hide it can be very severe.
May we always remember this, and Always Do What's Right!
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