This has been a tumultuous week in the news. The shocking revelations at Penn State that resulted in the firing of the head football coach and college president, accusations against Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, and the continued economic upheaval in Europe where it appears that international banks now have the power to topple countries.
With the one exception of Joe Paterno's biographer, every sportswriter and journalist has piled on, heaping accusations and some even calling for Penn State to terminate its football program. The students reacted differently, showing their love and respect for Joe Paterno with perhaps more passion than reverence. Who was correct?
There are several versions of How Do You Measure a Man? on Amazon's music store. I selected Clay Aiken's version and although a nice tune, it doesn't provide much insight into the question. Are all the decisions, thoughts, and deeds of a lifetime outweighed by a single event?
Mmm. I know myself pretty well. I have had thoughts, deeds, and responses which I regretted,and even still regret. I empathize with the Apostle Paul declaring himself "chief among sinners". Life experiences have taught me to treasure and strive for mercy rather than justice. It can be a slippery slope - without justice you can encourage or even give license to immoral or unethical behavior. Nonetheless, I want to error on the side of mercy.
So how would I measure Joe Paterno or even, Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach who has actually been accused of child molestation? Since this is a football context, add up the positive yardage - the lives that have been improved, touched, and changed. It probably circles the globe, doesn't it? If you are inclined to justice rather than mercy, then subtract some penalty yardage. Recall even King David stumbled, and thankfully we have not obliterated records or memories of his life.