Being a Boilermaker
Some of us are forgetting something, something that’s far too important to forget.
Occasional posts on this blog show this memory loss. One writer very recently used a phrase that contained the word "retarded"; another unloaded the latest salvo in this blog’s never-ending assault on Danny Hope. Last year, someone posted a needless and cruel comment about John Shurna’s looks. Another heard some trash talk spewed by Branden Dawson and then sank way lower by stating that he wished Dawson would tear an ACL.
We’re forgetting something—something that’s far too important to forget.
What’s being forgotten isn’t directly related to the developmentally disabled, Danny Hope or to these other victims, although some commentary is, I believe, necessary to demonstrate what happens when we forget something of this importance. The phrase that (mis)used the word "retarded" merits two comments. First, when people use "retarded" as a tool of derision, they mock and gratuitously ridicule millions of innocent people (including two of my close relatives) who, besides being nearly entirely defenseless, simply don’t deserve that cruelty. Such a careless use of language implies that this population is composed of sub-human creatures who the more advanced can make fun of and use as targets of sneering laughter. These sub-humans can further be used to debase others by "reducing" intended targets to the level of my close relatives, my dear friend’s sister and these millions of other innocent victims. Using "retarded" in this manner has occurred many times in the past on this blog.
Developmentally disabled people are actual human beings. They are our loved ones—our sisters, our brothers, our relatives, our friends. Their only crime is that they haven’t been as blessed developmentally as the rest of us. Because of that, they are used as objects of ridicule? They are taunted and sneered at? Shouldn’t those who have been more blessed know better than to resort habitually and thoughtlessly to such cruelty?
When we use "retarded" as a derisive adjective, we defile ourselves, something that saw double duty in that particular phrase which, in full, was, "retarded community organizer in chief in the White House." Such needlessly vicious language isn’t acceptable discourse; I believe it’s nothing more than ugly hate speech. It’s venom, the kind that regularly spews from the mouths of Alex Jones, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and many others who create such hate speech and inject it into the national conversation because they are paid immense amounts of money to do so.
I’m not trying to argue politics here. I’m just suggesting that we can express our dissatisfactions (political, athletic, whatever), regardless of how strongly they are felt, in more intelligent—and certainly more accurate—ways. We don’t have to resort to gratuitously venomous smears. When we stoop to that level, I believe that we diminish ourselves, not our intended targets, and we diminish something else as well—something to which all of us would swear we would never bring even the slightest dishonor.
Some writers immediately condemned the post that wished injury upon Dawson. Those who took offense at that awful remark have not forgotten something that’s too important to forget. They’ve recently been joined by the writers who complained about this blog’s endless attacks on Danny Hope. The man lost his job and now needs to regain respect and his self-respect. Relentlessly kicking him in the teeth while he’s down is just plain ugly and cruel. Most or even all of his detractors will almost certainly suffer a job loss at some point in their careers. Almost everyone does. I’ve been RIFed a couple of times. As one writer succinctly and aptly wrote, "It sucks." Boy, does it. Why on earth do we continue to kick him when he’s down? (I suspect, however, that these people would find ways to excoriate him should he succeed at another school ["Oh, sure, now he finally learns how to win games"].) What do we possibly gain by relentlessly tearing into him (or anyone)? Is that what we’ll want done to us when we are in his position?
Many writers didn’t kick him or pile on. They understand what he’s going through. After admonishing the article’s author, they wished Hope the best.
They haven’t forgotten what’s far too important to forget.
They remember that we are Purdue. We are Purdue Boilermakers. We are Neil Armstrong and John Wooden, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom, Don Berlin, Harold Gray and Booth Tarkington (all R.I.P.). We’re Sully Sullenberger, Brian Lamb, Drew Brees and countless, countless others. We Purdue Boilermakers know better than to ridicule those who are less fortunate than we are. We Purdue Boilermakers know better than to belittle the efforts of people who have been unsuccessful and seek a second chance or just need to find work. We Purdue Boilermakers know better than to wish potentially career-ending injury upon others. We Purdue Boilermakers know (or ought to know) better than to repeat mindless, nescient hate speech that defiles the speaker, not the intended target.
Please understand—I’m not saying that Purdue Boilermakers are better than anybody else is, and I also don’t mean to insult or pick on certain contributors to this blog. I’ve tried to address the behaviors, not the persons ("Hate the sin, not the sinner"). If you feel that I’ve attacked you personally or have been overly critical, then I sincerely apologize to you. If I’ve come across as pompous and self-righteous, I apologize for that, too.
What I’m trying to get across is that Purdue Boilermakers don’t abuse the less fortunate, cheer others’ misfortunes or spew hate speech. We’re better than that. We are Purdue Boilermakers, and we instead should strive to set as good of an example as those which have been set for us by all of these countless Boilermaker brothers and sisters. We come from the best, so we should act like it. Part of being a Boilermaker is, I believe, conducting ourselves according to the traits that everyone would envy, admire and seek to imitate. These traits go far beyond just an absolutely smothering defense and a totally uncompromising, Chris Kramer-like will to win. They mean grace, kindness, integrity, tolerance, compassion, true sportsmanship and, yes, humility.
When we set the best example we can and demonstrate that we come from the best, we remember and show that we are Purdue. We are Purdue Boilermakers. We bring honor to the institution that all of us will always cherish. More than that, we bring lasting honor to ourselves.
If we act otherwise, we dishonor that which we claim to adore. If we fail to remember something that’s far too important to forget…well, Shakespeare (who else?) put it best: "If I lose mine honor, I lose myself."