The Most Important Things....

Two deaths this past week brought me to a deep pondering of reality. Most people know that renowned Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died yesterday at the age of 85 after a battle with cancer. Up until a few months ago, "JoePa" as his fans called him, was about to go down in history as the winningest football coach in the NCAA Division 1 tier. He was widely respected as an intelligent, integrated and upstanding man.

Then certain cracks began to appear. His former assistant coach was charged and arrested for child sexual abuse. Then the news came that the allegations were known by certain members of the staff but that the assistant coach remained employed and undisciplined. People began to wonder, "how much did Joe Paterno know? Why didn't he do anything?"

Apparently Coach Paterno knew about the allegations and took what he thought were appropriate actions but it wasn't enough. Perhaps he didn't know quite what to do. In a previous post about this topic, I mentioned that it's the denial in many organizations that causes the greatest ongoing grief.

Whatever the case may be, Coach Paterno was fired in his last season by Penn State. Shortly after, his battle with cancer returned and on Sunday January 22nd, God called him home.

What are the most important things in life?

Winter X Games freeskiing champion Sarah Burke also died this past week as a result of an injury sustained during a training accident. One of her jumps went wrong and she landed on her neck and fell into a coma. After several days, it became apparent that the damage to her brain was unrepairable and she passed away at the age of 25.

Both of these people were very famous. Both of these people had achieved worldly success. But I wonder, what's the most important thing?

There are debates surrounding both of their deaths. Should Penn State have fired Joe Paterno? Was it his fault that the abuse went on for so long? Should he be honored as a coach when a member of his staff was involved in such grievous affairs? Should people be allowed to participate in such dangerous sports like freestyle skiing? Should the stakes go up every year with higher jumps and more difficult terrain? Should she have had better safety equipment? Isn't one death from this sport already too many?

These questions are left for those left on earth to try and answer. I wonder if we were to ask Joe and Sarah what the most important things are, would they say a stellar career? money? fame? risk?

I doubt it.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Points well taken Sr. Miriam. I think you hit the nail on the head. We had all best be asking ourselves that question while there is still time to answer it. After we take our last breath in this life, it will be too late to formulate an answer and to adjust or decisions accordingly. Thanks for the post. May they both rest in peace.

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