First of all, a disclosure.
I love Penn State football. I love their basic uniforms, the absence of a logo on their jerseys or helmets, their understated image of a team which works hard for its success and relies upon a team, not an individual.
I have great admiration for Joe Paterno - even now.
But, that being stated, this post is only peripherally about Penn State and Joe Paterno - it's about something broader and more wide-spread, something that came to my mind only as I watched the piranha-like feeding frenzy throughout the mainstream and online media in reaction to the Penn State scandal.
It's about how much joy we take in seeing other people fail.
As a society we used to seek out and revere our heroes - seeking to find a beacon in our own difficult lives to urge us forward, to be more than we were.
Now - we seek out heroes, in hopes that we can discover their own failings and their own evidence of humanity, so that we can justify being less than we could be.
And the politically-correct atmosphere of our current western culture is tailor-made for this.
The media no longer simply reports the facts - they devote hours and hours giving their own opinions of those facts.. err.. those allegations, as if they were facts - generally with a goal to being the first and the best at tearing down anyone in the public eye who dared to stand out and, by their conduct, to suggest the virtue of effort and hard work resulting in personal success.
Because, really, that's a very uncomfortable feeling.
To look in a mirror, to examine your own contribution to this world, and to make the judgment that you come up lacking.
Particularly when compared to people who have succeeded more than we have.
We see it in the Occupy movement, in their glaring hatred for anyone who has succeeded in business, when most of the occupiers would rather complain about other people's success than work to create their own.
We see it in the zeal over the alleged failings of Joe Paterno and Herman Cain of late.
We used to seek out heroes as an example to emulate, to tell ourselves that we can strive to be something more.
Somewhere, however, that changed.
At some point, we began to seek out heroes so that we could tear them down.
So that we could justify doing nothing, to tell ourselves that to strive to be something beyond our current reality is a fools errand.
We have become a society based upon schadenfreude. Taking joy in the misfortune of others.
Which is a recipe for a culture of mediocrity.
No more Frederick Banting discovering insulin. No more men on the moon. No more Mother Theresa.
Is that what we want?
Will we rejoice when all the Supermen are finally dead?