The 267-page Freeh report came out last week detailing former FBI director Louis Freeh’s findings in the Penn State Child Abuse case. Suffice it to say that multiple, high-ranking men, with the power to do something, knew of Jerry Sandusky’s despicable acts and did nothing to put a stop to it. Some might argue that they did the bare minimum with respect to their legal obligation in passing it up the food chain with little to no follow-up, but I would like to think that people aren’t that soulless. The more horrifying discovery to come out of the report was that the most powerful men at the university actually tried to sweep it under the rug. These men, all employed at an institute of higher education, were tasked with the responsibility to nurture, grow and care for young people and, inexplicably, seemed to do the opposite.
But why? Why would Graham Spanier, the university president, Gary Schultz, the vice president, Time Curley, the athletic director, and Joe Paterno, the longest-tenured head football coach in the country knowingly keep a child molester around?
Work. Because of their job and everything that came with it. In this case, it was certainly money, fame and power. Blowing the whistle on something carrying as much weight as child abuse might put all of the things these men have grown accustomed to in jeopardy. And they certainly didn’t want to deal with the fallout and the answers that the country most assuredly would have pressed them for given their prestigious titles.
We place so much emphasis on the work we do. Not that it should, but in far too many cases it defines who we are. It determines what house we buy, what kind of car we drive and what type of restaurants we frequent and, for better or worse, the type of people we associate with. When someone asks “What do you do?” the standard response is some form of an occupational title, though that certainly can’t sum up an entire being’s existence.
It’s never “just a job.” Whether you like it or not, it carries far more significance than a paycheck and a title. It affects every other area of our lives. And that’s a good thing. If you hate your job, it’s another reason to start looking elsewhere. If you love what you do, it can breathe energy and happiness into other important areas (social, spiritual, physical, financial, relational and mental).
There will never be an occupational title that completely encompasses an entire person, but if that title is the means in which we are superficially judged, then so be it. It’s not worth the energy to try to change that misconception. Instead, be thankful for that. Some of us should be grateful that we’ve found that special place where what we enjoy doing, what we believe in and how we are perceived all converge into a tidy grouping of words that “define” us. Some of us should use that as a catalyst for change to get to that special place where we can be proud of what we do, enjoy it, believe in it and succeed at it. And still some of us should work harder on taking our own advice…