11/14/2011 09:42 am ET Updated Jan 13, 2012

Penn State's Sandusky: The Worst Reasons Evil Thrives in America, and How to Vaccinate Against It

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. ~ Albert Einstein

Football is an American tradition based on male strength, courage, sportsmanship and honor. There are the rules of fair play, the referees to throw a yellow flag when those rules are broken and the plays from the playbook, practiced many times in hopes of a victory. It is a dangerous game to play with injuries that can kill or disable a player.

The expressions from football of having skin in the game means a full on commitment to the cause. Everyone wants in the game and wants to participate.

So, if the Grand Jury findings about Sandusky prove to be true, there were many of these same on-field champions acting as benchwarmers and sitting on the sidelines when they needed to put some serious skin in the game to protect children.

Football is a game of action yet there seemed to be a lot of people who did nothing or close to nothing, something that would never have been tolerated on the field where each man is expected to give 100%. These men's inaction created the perfect environment for evil to thrive in and spread its disease, harming many. This is an important topic to talk about since dealing with evil is a life skill that we all need to be proficient at and courageous about.

I want to define evil first. I will refer to evil as "it" in here because it does not seem to have human qualities. There are people who may do an evil act once and never again. Others who repeatedly do acts of evil, and those who feel guilty or bad afterwards and those that have no remorse or guilt at all. There may be people who are a little evil and others where evil has taken over. But for the purposes of this article, I'll refer to evil as "it." I will also use evil and sociopath or psychopath, interchangeably.

On the field, these men valued discipline, power, heroics and bravery. Do they live differently off the field? What stops good and decent people from doing the right thing when it counts the most? Perhaps part of the problem is recognizing sociopaths when it is not obvious. If a gunman went to a foot ball game, it is likely that heroic people would tackle him, like Scott Beamer's actions on September 11th when he said, "Let's roll". However, when evil or danger is not so obvious, good, decent people are often paralyzed when faced with recognizing evil that is more psychological and insidious in nature than guns blazing. There is not a sufficient vocabulary to communicate about and deal with evil. People are not sure how to unmask evil and take clear and right action to expose it. Evil can only spread its disease in darkness and secrecy and our paralysis and silence is its perfect environment.

Here are some basic principles. If a child is being abused, if there is violence or rape, it does not get brushed under the rug. That goes for anyone being harmed, but especially dependent or physically weaker people like kids, women, the elderly and disabled people. And for people who cry wolf for manipulative reasons making it harder for true victims to be believed, I have one word to describe you: evil. However, most people do not cry wolf and most people find it extremely difficult, shameful, frightening, confusing and embarrassing to talk about being touched by evil.

Here are five reasons why good and decent people allow evil people to continue to exist and harm others unchecked for so long -- with the number one reason being the most unforgivable.

5. Evil does not look like it does in the horror movies. It can look like a regular person or even look beautiful or handsome.

Remedy: Spend 1-2 hours looking at your state's sex offender registry to look at photos of who has done what. A bookish looking man or kindly looking grandfather type will have done some of the most offensive things. Here is the link to the Pennsylvania's Sex Offender Registry. The most important thing is to realize that while some of these people look like creeps, many look ordinary and trustworthy. If a sociopath has a title of authority, like a family court judge from Texas, we are less likely to question the perpetrator.

4. Evil needs silence, isolation and darkness to hide in and secrecy to thrive in. Evil will threaten, flatter or confuse you so that you turn away, burying your head in the sand or think you imagined it or that you are crazy. You will fear standing alone and think that no one will believe you. "We think we are imagining things, exaggerating, or that we, ourselves, are somehow responsible for the sociopath's behavior." (The Sociopath Next Door, page 87)

Remedy: Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Luke 12:3
The secret is to expose evil by both being able to communicate and prove it. Collect evidence, listen to your instincts and keep a journal. As you can read by the Sandusky Grand Jury Report, details are important. Unfortunately, bad people are masters at silencing others. In the case of Steve Raucci, people knew his identity but were kept silent through his mastery of seduction and intimidation. Americans can feel alone or isolated in their grappling with evil. "In fact one of the more striking characteristics of good people is that they are almost never completely sure they are right. Good people question themselves constantly; reflexively, and subject their decisions and actions to the exacting scrutiny of an intervening sense of obligation rooted in their attachment to other people. The self-questioning of conscience seldom admits absolute certainty into the mind, and even when it does, certainly feels treacherous to us, as if it may trick us into punishing someone unjustly, or performing some unconscionable act." (The Sociopath Next Door, page 97)
Evil knows this about good people and will use it to its advantage. So, let's say we have a strong negative feeling about someone and think something evil or bad may have occurred. The good person might say, "Are they bad or am I racist, sexist, agist, anti their religion, their appearance, their income level..." and evil may even suggest that we are those things to put us on the defensive. Good people often have so many doubts that evil slips right by as planned. Americans have such protection of individual rights that there exist people abusing the law for self serving dishonorable purposes who are hurting our society. Read Life without Lawyers; Restoring Responsibility in America to see how this has been negatively impacting our country.

3. Evil often seeks kindly, beautiful or impressive masks to disguise itself and to blend in with regular people. They are literal shape shifters. They might use the mask of a good Christian man, a philanthropist, a person who adopts and professes to love children or a police officer. "We are distracted from a person's actual behavior when he represents himself as in some ways benevolent, creative or insightful. We do not suspect people who claim to be animal lovers, for example. (Harvard Professor Martha Stout, PhD, The Sociopath Next Door page 92). Evil may be dressed up as an adored and revered obstetrician or breast cancer surgeon, a handsome young man with a cast needing help (Serial killer Ted Bundy's preferred strategy) or even your own mother or father or husband or wife.

Remedy: Trust yourself. It doesn't matter what their position, uniform or status, if something seems wrong pay attention. Meeting evil that is dressed up as a grandmother or a kindly coach can really confuse our heads. Our body knows something is wrong but everything looks okay. We want it to be okay. We don't want evil to exist and we hope that if we pretend it doesn't exist, it means it doesn't exist. Find trusted people and document what you can. Find people who believe you. People with their head in the sand or people who are minions or masks for evil don't want to hear what you are saying. Do not be discouraged if you are not believed at first. Keep trying.

2. Evil can read you much better than you can read it. It knows your greatest fears, insecurities and aspirations. It will plant doubts and make promises to you. Evil is often fascinating, intriguing, seductive and hypnotic all at the same time.

Remedy: Evil gives you a temporary taste of feeling that your unique personal needs and feelings are truly understood and valued. It feels dizzyingly good. Be extremely cautious when you think you hit the jackpot and all your wildest fantasies seem to be coming true all at once. Take your time to make sure it is not an ambush set up by evil. The girl who slept with you right away, agrees with you on everything and thinks you are a sex god - wait at least a year if not two to marry someone and have kids. Even if you learn on your wedding day that he is a sociopath, get out. Sociopaths get tired of pretending to be normal and good and their true colors will start to show through. Get away from danger as soon as you recognize it, tune out it promises and threats before its web clouds your mind. Do not feel bad for evil, engage evil, try to help or change evil, or understand evil. It will destroy you. It will tell you black is white and up is down. Somehow, it will hypnotize and scramble your brain and your perception of reality. Be rude, lie, get away, pretend to have another appointment, use the bathroom but escape immediately then talk to someone. Do not be alone with evil. Witnesses keep it in check. Don't keep its secrets. According to The Sociopath Next Door, one in 25 people have no conscience and can do anything at all. Most of these people are not in jail. They are looking for people to torment and toy with. "Put more succinctly, there are more sociopaths among us than people who suffer from the much-publicized disorder of anorexia, four times as many sociopaths as schizophrenics and one hundred times as many sociopaths as people diagnosed with a known scourge such as colon cancer." (The Sociopath Next Door, page 8)

1. The worst reason that evil thrives and triumphs in America is cowardice, money, self-interest, and self-preservation. It might even be called an epidemic of cowardice, dishonorable behavior and very bad sportsmanship.
People who exhibit cowardice and dishonor do not want to get involved and use excuses like "It's not my business", or it would look bad." Granted, many times there will be no repercussions for avoiding this responsibility, but in the case of Joe Paterno, the fallout of him reportedly not acting honorably is devastating to him, his family, all those who trusted him and entrusted him with their kids. When it counted, he and Tim Curley, may not have acted with honor, courage and fortitude and, based upon the published reports, their choices likely devastated countless people. In this case, there was a fake champion on the field with cowardice with zero accountability in real life when it counted. One football fan confessed, "On the field there is a code of ethics, off the field, most guys, myself included, get away with whatever we can. Without something outside of us to guide us, such as a rule book, an audience, a strong spiritual grounding or often a good wife who acts as our moral compass, we often won't step up like we ought to. I doubt Paterno went home to his wife and said, 'Honey, today I was told Sandusky was seen having anal sex with a 10 year boy in the shower. My plan is to do the bare minimum to cover my a***. How does that feel to you, honey?"

Remedy: Evil people are scary and disorientating to face. That is why men often put their heads in the sand. They use excuses like, "I don't want to lose my job" or they want to avoid impacting their image. Where is the courage and honor in that? There is none. In high school, we read about The Scarlet Letter "A" that stood for adultress in. The worst reason that evil thrives in America is the Yellow Letter "C" for that stands for cowardice. Fear of standing alone, fear of facing evil, fear of being called disloyal and fear of losing money and prestige. No job is worth your soul or sacrificing kids. Americans need to use their courage, guts, honor and faith and do the right thing. If it is illegal, immoral or unethical, expose it. In the movie Monsoon Wedding, there is a child molester who also happens to be very wealthy. The head of the family doesn't want to believe that his brother-in-law, the man he needs to borrow money from, is evil. The bad man ends up being publicly unmasked and thrown out of the family even though it means giving up needed financial backup.

Let us not forget that evil people knows we are afraid of evil and may try to trick and confuse us in several ways. They may pretend to be someone good and promise to protect us and help us root out evil, like Joe McCarthy. In fact, this was just evil getting its kicks destroying good people. They might also accuse us of doing exactly what they are doing. It is not uncommon for the person stealing money or cheating to accuse others of the exact same thing to scare us. Evil loves making us second guess ourselves. Another good book to read about evil is People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

And, just in case you are wondering what are other common sociopath reactions when caught? They lie very creatively and convincingly. "A sociopath who is about to be cornered by another person will turn suddenly into a piteous, weeping figure who no one in good conscience could continue to pressure. Or, the opposite: Sometimes a cornered sociopath will adopt a posture of righteous indignation and anger in an attempt to scare off her accuser..." (The Sociopath Next Door pg 91) And most of all, watch for the "pity play". While we ought to be wary of evil, evil wants us to feel sorry for it. As one sociopath told Martha Stout Ph.D. in an interview, "What I like better than anything else is when people feel sorry for me. The thing I really want more than anything out of life is people's pity". Why? "More than admiration - more than fear - pity from good people is carte blanche. When we pity, we are, at least for the moment, defenseless..." (The Sociopath Next Door pg 107-108)

Sociopaths will also accuse us of being judgmental, accuse us of picking on their religion, race, gender, nationality and other names to put us on the defensive to throw us off track. This technique of making us feel crazy is called gaslighting. "How can we avoid being gaslighted and allow ourselves to recognize the people around us who have no conscience?" (The Sociopath Next Door pg 102)

Since evil has been around for a long time, I will comment on the following quotes to answer this.

~ Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. Unknown
Condemning people and throwing away the key without due process is bad. But showing good judgement and judging who you or your kids spend time around, is really important.

~ All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing ~ Edmund Burke

Or my version. All that evil needs to win is to be allowed to stay hidden and masked and for good men to act from cowardice and self-interest and for women to ignore their innate instincts. Evil can not exist in the light when men exhibit honor and courage and women honor their instincts. Read about evil in the two books I suggest here and be willing to talk about it. If it is harming people, put together your team for good and unmask it as safely as possible. Be brave. Evil is like a shadow with stage fright. Once the lights come on and people see it, it looses much of its power.

"God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God." -Albert Einstein

Facing evil does require faith, courage and steadfastness. Remember the line from the Lords Prayer"...And deliver us from evil." Courage is taking action when afraid and when there is no guarantee of a win.

We have seen other epidemics of evil spreading insidiously. Some recent examples are the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church and in possible money crimes in the American financial industry documented by the Oscar winning Film Inside Job. Both of those institutions are primarily male-based and exclude women from the high levels of leadership. Is there a connection? Martha Stout also suggests that not allowing girls to honor their "ick" feelings is also connected to suppressing the natural instincts we all have to identify and limit evil's ability to gain power and spread. How was Jaycee Dugard found? Two women police officer working on the Berkley campus met her captor felt something was wrong. They had little more than that to go on. They did not discount it, sit on bench or stand on the sidelines. They didn't do the minimum to cover their a**. The put some skin in the game. They pursued the lead and that is what led to Jaycee being found and rescued from 18 years of being a hostage. That all started with a hunch.

There are courageous men and women who do the right thing every day. But, not enough acted in this instance. Don't put your head in the sand when evil is in front of you and almost begging to be flagged. Get some skin in the game when needed and stay away from the bench and the sidelines if evil is active.