That’s not a question to take lightly, given the recent exposure of significant failings of people long-considered as highly trustworthy. Up until ten days ago, even the most ardent Pitt fan would have conceded that Penn State coach Joe Paterno was an outstanding coach. He seemed to embody the best of Bobby Knight, only without Knight’s failings.
Unfortunately, the Jerry Sandusky scandal has exposed Paterno’s own failings. At best, he made an honest mistake that resulted in Sandusky’s continued abuses. At worst, he was knowingly complicit in a longtime coverup of child sex atrocities that were known in Penn State circles as far back as 1995. At best, he deserved termination and an unceremonious departure. At worst, he deserves a penalty larger than our justice system could ever provide.
Still, this post is not so much about Paterno or Sandusky or McQueary or any of the Penn State crew. This is about who you trust to provide leadership. Thomas L. Day, writing an op-ed for the Washington [Com]Post, suggests something I’ve long felt: you cannot look to our recent past generations for leadership in our emerging crises.
While there are small matters with his piece to which I would take some exception, those are minuscule. The larger issue here is that our past generations are overrated at best to downright morally bankrupt at worst. And when situations demand extraordinary action, the best of those generations–and even our generation–are going to come up lacking.
Let’s be honest, folks: Joe Paterno was the last person you would have expected to merely send a credible report of a former coach of his–sexually assaulting a child–up the food chain to his Athletic Director.
While his actions are not those of someone seeking to cover up an atrocity, he clearly failed to understand the gravity of the situation he was dealing with.
And that may be our biggest challenge right now. Before anyone can lead, he must understand the gravity of what he’s dealing with. That is not where leadership ends, but it must begin here.
Today, we have challenges as a nation. Those are materializing, or–more accurately–metastasizing. We have a government that is propping up an economy–inflated by multiple economic bubbles–with unsustainable levels of borrowing. Our ranks of citizens has sent a dual message to our government: we don’t like all the bailouts or deficit spending, but–DAMN IT–we want our entitlements! Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment…
My point is not about what you think of Democrats or Republicans but rather this: when this great house of cards comes crashing down–and trust me, it will–Americans will demand leadership.
But who are we going to trust? Where do we look for the answer? Does ANYONE get it?
The so-called “Greatest Generation” is more accurately-named the Overrated Generation.
The Baby Boomers are the Condom Generation: they gave us a false sense of security while we were being screwed.
Generation X–my generation–is the Deceived Generation: we rode the Baby Boom generation, expecting to gain prosperity, when in fact we were being sucked dry all along.
Generation Y is now the Bankrupt Generation: let’s face it, the end of the Ponzi is near.
Where are we going to look for our answers? Which generation can provide it?
And no, it’s not about one person trying to be a hero. Moses tried to be a hero and spent 40 years in exile before God called him to greatness. At age 80, he was a lot more humble about what lay before him. God instilled in him the moral courage to take action.
Still, after 40 years in the wilderness, Moses understood the gravity of the situation. And he finally understood the way out.
Today, do any of our “leaders” get it?
Thomas Day seems to answer in the negative. He points to Paterno as his last straw. Personally, I think Day was way too optimistic. I had lost faith long before Sanduskygate.
But where do we look? What qualities should we demand?
After all, recent history is littered with powerful, charismatic leaders who had a large degree of support from their people–and even abroad–and who all but destroyed their countries.