Right now, all eyes are on Penn State. Nearly every media outlet is eager to cover the monstrosity that is Jerry Sandusky. The stories are horrific. The cover up, inexcusable. Am I surprised? No. Sad? Yes.
There was a time when my family was in the national spotlight (Oprah canceled on my mom, and I’ve never quite forgiven her for that), and while I’m glad the exposure helped shed light on a deep and systemic sex abuse cover up in the Catholic church, the spotlight only shines so long. Soon, another tragedy takes the stage, and the coverage shifts to someone else’s pain. This is to be expected. It’s called “news” for a reason.
But what happens to the victims and their families when the cameras leave? Their lives will go on, but will forever be changed. Somewhere along the way, they’ll get sideways glances in public. They’ll be called out for what happened to them rather than for who they are. Some friends and family might distance themselves, for fear of being associated with something so controversial. It’s ridiculous, but it happens.
The cameras may be gone from our lives now, but the pain is still here, still real. It’s now when your true friends, your new friends, will step forward. You’ll form strong bonds with others who’ve stood in your shoes, or care enough to try your shoes on for size. I’m finding that out now. The flood of emails, Facebook messages and blog comments let me know that people still care. People are still good. Thank you. Thank you for still caring, even when it’s no longer “news.”
To the victims and families of the Sandusky tragedy: please know there are people out there who will still care once you’re no longer front page news. Your life still matters. Your pain still matters. People still care. I do, and I always will.