Viewpoint: Individuality vs. unity

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It used to be BYU and Penn State were the only college football programs with national championships and without NCAA violations on their record, but after the bad news that came out of the Appalachian version of Happy Valley, Penn State’s defiled reputation has gone beyond the realm of bylaws and into laws, both civic and eternal.

Words like “appalling,” “horrific” and “disgusting” don’t even begin to describe the horrible acts committed by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

As a college football fan, it’s sad to see a college football program become involved with such heinous crimes against society and nature. As a father, I don’t know whether to punch something or cry.

I hope the victims and their families can find peace through their community and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

By describing my feelings about the sexual abuse scandal, I don’t mean to tear down Penn State while building up BYU. Even with the message of the restored gospel behind the team, I know BYU football is not impervious to the evils of the world, just like none of us are.

The Cougars have had their share of stains on their record. Although nothing has reached the magnitude of atrocities at Penn State, there are certainly moments Cougar Nation is not proud of.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall admitted he can’t prevent “all things whereby [one] may commit sin.”

“We’re not immune, and I don’t think anyone is immune from having a problem,” Mendenhall told BYUtv’s Robbie Bullough. “No way any coach could know everything.”

But we can be confident Mendenhall would not ignore any problems brought to his attention.

“Every [violation] that I do know, I act on it and I act on it immediately, and I act on it usually more fiercely and more sternly than the institution would,” Mendenhall said.

I believe Mendenhall would act fiercely even if it meant he was a target of his own wrath — something rare in today’s society.

Among all the things that aggravate me about the Penn State scandal, the reaction of the student body is perhaps the most perplexing.

The campus has devolved into a riotous anarchy — and not as an expression of anger over the abuse that took place.

Penn State erupted to protest the untimely exit of their beloved coach Joe Paterno.

Paterno is beloved for a reason, after leading the Nittany Lions to 409 wins in a span of 46 years, but even a legend is subject to consequences for his action or inaction.

It may seem unfair to see Paterno go. But life isn’t about fairness or keeping everything under control. It’s about how we deal with adversity, even when that adversity is someone else’s fault.

The world is biased toward individuality. Individuals claim credit and avoid blame. If someone is suffering, we have the prerogative to care or carry on — we don’t let the downfall of others become a buzzkill while we celebrate our own triumphs.

It’s the same attitude that brought cheers for the death of a hypothetical, uninsured patient at a Republican debate in September. He deserved it, it’s his own fault he didn’t have insurance. Why should we have to sacrifice?

True, one of our Articles of Faith declares “men will be punished for their own sins,” and the Apostle Paul teaches us to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.”

But Paul also teaches us the mission of our prophets is “the perfecting of the saints … till we all come in the unity of the faith.”

How can we become unified if we only look out for No. 1?

A healthy church, community or campus means being involved in each other’s lives. Our successes should be shared, as well as our failures.

Being selfless can be risky, but it is far more rewarding than isolation.

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