Friday, November 18, 2011

PennState Crisis: Lessons?

When I first heard about the crisis, it was when the issue was just started to rise and Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier (President of Pennstate) was still a part of Pennstate alumni. At the beginning, I only heard about Pennstate facing a crisis. Later on I soon heard that it was something about a sex scandal. Truthfully, I was not very concern about the issue as we always hear about sex scandals and affairs in the news. It is true what Sam has said in class; victims are often silenced and will never speak out. But we do know that sexual abuse and assaults are common. Little did I know that it was such a huge deal for PENNSTATE when two most respective idols of Pennstate were involved.

*Joe Paterno (JoePa), the head coach of Pennstate's football team for 46 years.*

When I started to hear that JoePa's job was on the line, the first question that popped in my mind was 'Was he the one who did it?' Soon to find out that JoePa wasn't, really left me feeling that the whole news coverage on JoePa much more instead of the real offender, is really absurd and ridiculous. Finding out later that the university board of trustees had fired JoePa and the president of Pennstate really set an uproar across pennstate students.
*Graham Spanier, President of Pennstate before the crisis.*

The riot then quickly followed. The Candle Vigil was for Pennstate to redeem itself in a way and to show support of the victims of sexual abuse. We also managed to witness a very mature Pennstate when Pennstate lost it's last football game to Nebraska, but nobody was going nuts downtown like they would use to.

Being from thinking that this is just another sexual abuse case into thinking that Pennstate's reputation might be tarnished forever and into this is how it feels to be labeled and stereotyped as how muslims and middle eastern students faced day to day, is quite an amazing journey within a short amount of time.

The first thing that I've learn from this is how ridiculously everything is just about politics, well in my opinion that is. I do not see the reason why we need to bring in the higher authorities that actually did try to do something about the matter when they knew about it, while leaving the real culprit being the 'sub-topic' of the matter. Why do I see more people condemning PENNSTATE as a whole, condemning JoePa and the president compared to the culprit if he is indeed guilty of the charges? Very interesting display of politics, I must say.

I was only aware that this scandal could indeed harm Pennstate's reputation and the students when we discussed the issue in class. And also when the media started to ‘attack’ Pennstate. To add to that, class last week also made me aware of another thing: 'American' Pennstate students are actually experiencing what muslims and middle easterns had been experiencing over the years since 9/11. Despite being a muslim myself, I have only been in this country for 3 years for studies, hence I have yet to really experience discrimination if I were to plan to migrate and live in the U.S. for good. Plus, I am indeed studying in State College; thankfully, the community here does not discriminate as much as incidences that I have heard of in different states of the country.

Come to Pennstate, and you will know how friendly and peaceful this community is. Even cars will stop for pedestrians who might not be crossing the road at the right time or right place! Try crossing the road in New York or back at home in Malaysia. You are certainly putting your life on the line if you were to do just that.

Going back to what Sam said in the 2nd class to discuss about the crisis, I could not agree more with what he concluded in class. We should not just ‘Deal with it’, or face the problems that we are facing in life, but GROW from it.

Remember the sweet memories, but don’t forget the bad memories either; learn from them so that we may move on to look for new sweet memories :)
Hang in there Pennstate.
We are.... PennState!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why So Judgemental?

Innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent? Does the first only belongs to optimists and the latter to pessimists? Or does the latter practices 'better be safe than sorry' or the first 'don't judge a book by it's cover?'

As Sam has mentioned many times, everything in this world, especially humans, is not simply black and white. We are all grey, and very complex creatures with various and diverse complex matters and problems.
Gray :)

Even though intellectually we all know that 'innocent until proven guilty' is the optimists road, preserving human rights and all, but we still can't avoid passing judgement very quickly on everyone we meet, or on every matter we encounter. This is simply because we are human in nature. We have those natural mechanisms of caution and survival whenever we encounter something, regardless of it being harmful or harmless. Yes, not everyone reacts or pass judgement the same way towards the same matter; we are indeed complex creatures. However when we do pass judgement rather quickly on others, it is simply due to our defensive mechanisms kicking in.

Say for example you meet a new friend through friends at a party. He/She seems to be the attention getter, and just started acting wild because of alcohol, and started bashing you for really embarrassing matters. You would almost immediately take him or her as a jerk and start to defend yourself; especially in front of your group of friends.

For the most of us this judgement might only last until that person is sober. But for the first hour that we have met the drunk-jerk, we made a judgement (of the person being a complete jerk) simply to enable ourselves to defend our dignity and honor.

The same goes for 'judging a book by it's cover'. I could honestly say when I was traveling with in Philly, we will be extra cautious of black men. We are not being racist, but we were only afraid and worried of our safety as a result of hearing rumors of the ghetto area of Philly. I myself have met black men who are the most gentle and intellectual individuals. However when we were in Philly, my friends and I passed judgement for our safety.

I could say that it is not easy to overcome this quick judgmental side of our human nature. I even struggled with it for a bit myself for quite a long time. A few years ago, I struggled with having the 'first impression' that muslim boys and girls that were social, drinking, leaving their five time prayers, eating pork, and could care less off their aurah and sleep around were all extremely 'bad' people. But over time, I learned that I have no right to judge.

They all are still Muslims, and they still have the chance to repent and turn a new leaf, because Allah is the All-Forgiving. In fact, they are facing huge challenges by Allah; where their ignorance of the religion and towards sin is also a sign that Allah still loves them.

Who knows they might have had a bad childhood, or dark horrible stories that caused them to be that way today. I think the main root that we pass judgement very quickly on people is because we assume that they are like us. We assume that they have the same opportunities and chances to know what we know, to learn what we learn and be able to overcome ignorance. Not everyone has the same childhood, the same family, the same house, and even the same friends! Then we start passing judgement when someone else has different values, different believes.

Learning this changed my life. I no longer pass judgement on a person ultimately because he or she is different from me even for the slightest bit, because I am now aware that they may not have the chances that I had to learn what they have yet to know; or maybe something that they do know that I am ignorant of. Hence if we do encounter those who remain ignorant, it is our duty to TELL them what we know before passing judgement. Teach it to them. Then if they still reject it, it is between them and Allah.

I am still learning too. So if I am ignorant of something, please do share with me your knowledge, and I'll gladly share you mine :)

Let us share the knowledge, then maybe the world will be a better place.

Rasulullah(saw) said "The best of charity is a Muslim who learns a knowledge and later teaches it to his Muslim brother."