All That Is Necessary For The Triumph of Evil Is That Good Men Do Nothing

The more I hear about the Pen State Football program and what various people had to have known or seen, the more I think of a quote often attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I don’t know the exact origin of the quote, but it seems to fit this situation too much for my liking whether describing Paterno, the coach who saw one incident happening, the janitor or his boss, the school authorities who failed to follow through, the legal authorities who didn’t act when told or allowed the cases to be shut down…So many people could have stopped these things from continuing in 98, 99, 02, or lord only knows how many times since. So many lived up to the requirements under the letter of the law, but I have a hard time not thinking the most charitable way to describe them in my thoughts is “they are the good men who did nothing.”


If you do nothing, of what use to society as a whole is being “good?” All I can say is “Please. At least try. If you fail, if you are wrong, even if you look the fool, at least try. Tell me it’s not easier to sleep at night knowing you did all you could, that you didn’t succeed, but knowing maybe a 100 more may see or hear that you tried and find the strength of character to follow your lead.” The shame is how common it is, the turning our head and continuing to walk on by even the gravest of injustices out of fear that we will be out of place or mistaken in commenting or following up. We all want to pass the buck on responsibility under the guise of once passed we have done our duty. I think most of the time when we refuse to act on what we see telling ourselves not to make things worse, we have. We like to pretend if it is a big deal, the next person will act. I hope my kids learn that we are the next person. It’s a leap in character I recognize as beyond my kids ability to fathom now but I don’t want to sell them short either. We are still working on the “Don’t do that!” level more than 90% of the time, but I still love watching them when they act on the other 10%.

We’ve had our share of crazy moments this week from my forgetting to put a pull-up on O leading to a wet morning for him, to the insanity which happened right after the picture above. For the picture, I was having the kids make their crazy silly faces as an effort to distract them from their escalating tired getting on each other nerves moments. Just as I finished the picture, the door bell rang, the dogs went nuts, and the screaming through the house began in earnest. I thought my head would explode. So now I look at the picture and wonder if I chose the best route through the mayhem. The yelling was temporary (though happens every night lately), and i still like the picture, so I’ll go with yes even if it feels like the “Nothing for nothing” motto. We’re just dealing with all the chaos required in the trial and error process of adjusting kids’ medications, and I think the picture actually sums up my feelings on the process with all of its tears, yelling and sleepless nights.

My favorite moment of the week came tonight (of the day written not posted). My daughter read me Put me in the Zoo by Dr. Seus. I loved looking at her face as she beamed pride reading the page for the second time after sounding out a few words she didn’t recognize. It’s a great feeling. It’s these kinds of milestones which make me think all of the hours spent reading to them with a moving finger pointing at the word being read are worth more than ten times the effort we’ve put forth. It’s these victories which inspire hope.

On a side note, I signed up for a 15k run on December 4th. For a few years now, I’ve set a half marathon as my target distance. It’s a completely arbitrary distance in an attempt to show myself MS doesn’t have to make me untrainable. Being fit isn’t impossible.  I frequently look at the my belly which will never leave and resign myself to make it the best traveled belly out there. The 15k run is getting ever closer to my target, and I figure it will probably never get easier. Having run a few 10k over the past 2 years, I think now is as good a time as any to attempt the next rung. I find it funny that earlier in the year, I ran a 5k in Guam whose motto was “Kick the Fat.” The irony was they served Spam fried rice at the end of the race. So now at the end of the year, I am upping the ante going for 15k… and the reward when we cross the finish line is a chocolate fondu. At least if I have to give up the idea of running these races to lose weight, I will be doing so for a bribe I enjoy more than Spam.

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3 thoughts on “All That Is Necessary For The Triumph of Evil Is That Good Men Do Nothing”

  1. It was called "horsing around" by the culprit. I have spent time with horses and actually have never showered with them nor have I see any horses in a locker room shower together. Horsing around implies either two kids of the similar ages being kids of similar ages or parents having some mild wrestling fun with their kids.

    Pater, Mater and the whole list failed the boys. I

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    Funny part for me is it took me till today to break Paterno into Pater (father) No (same in most languages). He was certainly far from the protective father figure he could have been had he outed Sandusky publicly.

  3. The scandal at Penn State is heart wrenching for the victims and a sad commentary for adults on what is truly important in life. How did a 28 year old six four man walk past the scene in the locker room shower? I wonder if the boy, now a young man, will ever stop saying in his head, "Why wouldn't or didn't he help me?" There are too many questions and not very many good

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