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An Open Letter to Penn Staters: There is a Time and There is a Place

We have come to another crossroad yet again. It isn’t news that earlier today, the Paterno statue was effectively removed from sight and all that remains are the markings that have long since been permanently imprinted by years of presence.

Today, it is okay to feel strongly about this action taken by Penn State. Whether we wanted it removed or that we wished it had remained, today, everyone shares together the same burden.

We should all feel betrayal. We should all feel heartbreak. We should all feel loss.

But today, however, is not the day to feel anger.

There is a time and there is a place.

Before we let our strongest emotions take control of our actions, before we let our heaviest emotions divide us against each other, we need to find unity and show the world; that does not like us, watch us rise when it was so ready to watch us fall.

For some of us, the statue meant the legacy of a great man and for the rest of us, it showed the failure of an old man and paralyzing hypocrisy.

In reality, whether we like it or not, the statue meant more for the rest of the world than it ever did or ever will for us.

Aeschylus in his greek trilogy, the Oresteia, remarks on the purpose that sorrow serves for wisdom:

Even in Our Sleep,
Pain which cannot forget,
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
Until in our own despair,
Against our will,
Comes wisdom through the awful grace of God

From these events, we have to make a decision.

We can let our own emotions consume us, we can turn our fear and uncertainty into anger and madness. We can fall victim to our own predicament and let hatred become the only thing we ever remember.

Or, together, we can turn this pain and we can turn this suffering into love and wisdom. We can show the world that we have learned something. We can show the world that this scar on our University isn’t our weakness by hiding it. We can instead, forever keep this ugly scar in open view.

It will not be easy.

It will not be diginified.

It will not be embraced.

But it will remind everyone watching, as long as they can see this wound, we suffer now and we suffer here so that history will someday remember we were strongest together at our weakest time. We never want the world to forget this pain, because without it, it will never learn.

Taking down the statue was an easy decision. It was the easy way. It makes it easier to forget that an institution failed. It makes it easier to hide the impotence of able men. The statue should have stayed up, not because it was about Paterno, but because it exemplified those who have suffered the most.

Just like the suffering of victims, this statue was cold.
It was hollow.
It was dark.
It was heavy.
And it stood there alone.

Concentration camps in Europe do not serve to dignify the torture, but to remind the world of atrocities that are never again allowed to happen.

Tomorrow, we may face punishment for our football team. But throughout the past few months, we’ve been the first ones to say that isn’t about football. Whether the outcome is less than desirable, we must be the first ones to prove that it isn’t just about football. This is about real people and this is about true suffering. We are strong and we will survive.

There is a time and there is a place:

Now, we must come together with our broken hearts. Here, we must show every person that we have learned from this suffering and it is our responsibility that this too, never again is allowed to happen.

I cannot make this decision for anyone, you cannot make this decision for anyone. We have to make this decision together for everyone who didn’t have a voice when they needed it most.

This is now the most important time to prove ourselves:


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About the Author

Chadwick Lynch

I am a creative thinker and content contributor for Onward State. There is always a madness to my method; it's easier to see in the darkness of abstraction when truth causes blindness. I'm only as serious as you think I am. Obscuris Vera Involvens

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