As of this writing, Joe Paterno is expected to announce his retirement, forced out by the scandalous news that his former Defensive Coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was a kid toucher, molesting little boys, and while Paterno went directly to his boss upon learning of it, allowed it to be swept under the rug.
This was a man, loved, respected, admired, for being an example of all that is right in the world, a beacon, a guide showing us that through the years what was once great can still be great. Someone who stood for doing it right. And now, like so many before him, that legacy is now forever destroyed. Its been raped like the children he chose not to stand up for, pillaged, like the soul of all of us who believe in something better, and the people who symbolize that ideal.
Its been a long time now since Charles Barkley famously stated "I'm not a role model". That message was always misconstrued, he meant that its the responsibility of parents to be role models for their own children, something he was dead on about, and has only become an epidemic in our world, the shirking of that most important job description. But he was wrong also, so wrong, because its the responsibility of us all to try to be and show the best of ourselves, give those younger who look to us for guidance a positive image to live up to. And our stars, our icons, are the very ones that are supposed to be leading that charge.
Since that time our leaders have betrayed us, showing us all how completely corrupt our entire system, our way of life, truly is, and how very little they care about their own people so long as their pockets are lined.
The people we are supposed to look up to have been exposed as frauds, lying and cheating and swindling every one on their way to the top.
Showing their true colors, that like Hilary Swank with ruthless dictators, these people are little more than mercenaries, taking the money and running off to the next party satisfied with their own greatness while looking down on the people who believed in them, who needed them.
What was it that LeBron said.... in the morning he'll still be rich, but the rest of us will have to wake up and go back to our miserable lives? I'm paraphrasing, but this was the message Lebron had for all of us. That's what it means these days to be great.
The other day someone who should know better yelled at me for things I've said, having this to say:
"Yes, Steve Jobs was a dick, but he changed a lot of things, created jobs and technology that's being put to use in hospitals and to help aid in third world countries. He was openly an ass, never faked anything but. Can't fault him for that."
So its ok to be a total prick, ruin the lives of these people over here, so long as you admit you're an ass, invent some gadgets, and throw some of your money at the problems of those people over there.
The very fact that this person finds this acceptable highlights so much of what's wrong with us today, doesn't it? The fact that they don't see how asinine that really is shows how disillusioned we've become.
And when we were promised change, filled with the hope for a return to better days, nothing was done, and the only thing to change is that we no longer believe that there's anything to hope for. The future looks as bleak and as doomed as it ever has. The morale of the nation, of the world, and the people has never been lower. I've never felt so much despair from so many people and like most of you out there, I don't know if things will ever get better. There's no image to make me believe that it will.
There was once a time when we did everything that we could to protect that saintly image of our heroes, no matter how many or how gruesome the skeletons in their closet were. Sure, part of that was because you weren't going to get the story if you ripped into guys back then, but part of it was because we better understood the sanctity of that thing to aspire to, that greatness in all of us we could all reach if only we had someone to show us the way.
And now the world has become so cynical, so nasty and cruel, that even when we find a true winner, a good man, a man of heart, of soul, of conscious, that uses all of what's in them and every effort to do it right, just for the sake of doing it the right way, we do everything we can to tear them down and rip them apart in every way.
It makes me sick. But what's worse, it makes all of us sick, in our souls, in ways we can't see.
I was 18 years old in 1995 when the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, and that night I bawled my eyes out, cried like a baby, because Don Mattingly was never going to win it all. I'm a grown ass man, and to this day whenever I see pictures of Donnie Baseball tears fill my eyes, and a smile crosses my face. He was an example of every way you play the game right. I wanted to be him. I love him. He's my hero.
Now more than ever, we as a people need someone to bridge the gap between one era of greatness to the next, someone to make us believe again, have hope, when there's nothing else to cheer for.
We need a Dragon Slayer, a champion, someone who sees the road ahead, knows what has to be done, and is willing to take the weight of the world on their shoulders, to put us on their shoulders, and lead us to the promised land.
We need someone who understands that we're more than just the sum of our parts, that is able to look passed our differences, look passed what separates us, always finds the beauty in us whether we're black, white, yellow, blue, purple or green, whether we have pointy ears or hairy feet
Someone who doesn't believe in unbeatable scenarios, and is always able to find ways to accentuate our strengths rather than bash our weaknesses, and brings us together, rallies us behind them to use those strengths in synergy to get the job done. Someone who makes us better than we could be by ourselves.
What we need now more than anything else, more than ever, is a miracle. Something to makes us believe again, to believe in each other, to believe in ourselves.
But this is hard to come by, because integrity is so hard to come by. Because sometimes it requires making the ultimate sacrifice, giving everything, your very life if need be, to stand up to the slings and arrows, to hold on to what you believe.
And that's a lonely road very few want, or are willing, to walk.
Yet still, we need a rallying cry, someone to rise up an galvanize the people into action now for a better tomorrow, no matter the cost.
"But Cap, you'll DIE!"
"I know... AVENGERS.... ASSEMBLE!"
But then.... my heroes have always been Captains.
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