Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts on the Penn State situation

"...It is not enough in a situation of trust in the commonwealth, that a man means well to his country; it is not enough that in his single person he never did an evil act, but always voted according to his conscience, and even harangued against every design which he apprehended to be prejudicial to the interests of his country. This innoxious and ineffectual character, that seems formed upon a plan of apology and disculpation, falls miserably short of the mark of public duty. That duty demands and requires that what is right should not only be made known, but made prevalent; that what is evil should not only be detected, but defeated. When the public man omits to put himself in a situation of doing his duty with effect it is an omission that frustrates the purposes of his trust almost as much as if he had formally betrayed it. It is surely no very rational account of a man's life, that he has always acted right but has taken special care to act in such a manner that his endeavours could not possibly be productive of any consequence..."
Edmund Burke 
excerpt from Thoughts On The Cause Of The Present Discontents, 1770

It is this passage that is believed to have originated the phrase "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
It's easy to know what "should have been done" in retrospect, but can be much harder to know what to do when in a situation. With that being said, doing the bare minimum will always result in heartache for someone, whether it's yourself that you're selling short or the object of your original actions.
This is not about a single man, but about a collection of men in positions of power who declined to advocate and protect the youths over whom they were put in charge. They prioritized wealth, power, and sports over the health and well-being of fragile children. 
Shame on them.

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