This is not a sports response. But before I get going: isn’t it something that the organization in charge of collegiate athletics at the highest level is perceived in many circles as a cloak-and-dagger operation? A place where those with the highest acclaim and notoriety get a pass. Some would call this American justice, but I am not that cynical.

The Cam Newton case comes to mind as well. I am not sure if a son that highly recruited can have no idea that his father is seeking money. The final verdict regarding Newton will probably not be realized until many years from now. Perhaps he didn’t take money to go to a school that he did not want to attend. Perhaps he changed his mind on his own with only the most innocent motives. Who am I to speculate? (See I told you I wasn’t that cynical.)

This is my dad, Cecil. We don’t talk THAT much.

The simple fact is that where there are great motives, horrible motives are close at hand. Let me not compare amateur athletics to Christianity, but Judas is an apt metaphor. In the words of a football recruiter I heard recently, “There’s always an uncle.” Those that want to break away from injustice or live in innocence will always be near those that have a reason to maintain the present circumstances. Change, real cultural or institutional change is always very hard to come by partly because of this fact. Inertia, however, may be a bigger factor.

Most people feel comfortable in the current situation regardless of the horrid conditions. They begin to identify themselves with whatever the situation is. They do not question underlying issues. Leaven, isn’t this a big issue with people escaping poverty or overcoming addiction? I become the status quo around me even if it does not benefit me to continue in this manner.

This is why martyrdom is so effective. Martyrdom jars us awake from our slumber with a cold splash of perspective. The majority of the world understands that life is precious. So when one offers his/her life for destruction, then even the most jaded can realize the importance of this sacrifice.

However, the world has difficulty seeing martyrdom happening at the moment of its inception. Maurice Clarett’s suit was hailed by many as a death knell to college football. However, I wonder how many fans outside of Columbus remember the details just a few years later. Many self-proclaimed Messiahs came and went before Jesus of Nazareth. How many in Jerusalem realized his significance the Saturday he was in the tomb? His own closest friends spent that Sabbath questioning their hero’s life.

Additionally, martyrdom does not always create great change. If someone is not there to pick up the mantel, then the destruction remains alone. The player’s union deciding to unite behind the concept of free agency brought about the system (however corrupt it is) that we have today. The men and women who believed in a risen Savior and served him daily caused Christianity to transform from a small movement among a conquered tribe to an international belief system. (Please do not think I am discounting God in this. Remember, God calls his people to this action.)

I do not mean to discount martyrdom, but we must put the sacrifice of the few into perspective. They are a piece of change, but they are not the change itself. Oh that it were that easy.

Many simple folks work daily to make the world a better place, and in their own way, they accomplish it. I personally think the larger issue underlying the country’s dissatisfaction with President Obama lies in the disappointment that progress succeeds not with rhetoric, but with dirty, ugly, hard decisions made daily. We can only rage against the machine for so long because rage does not equal change. And hope fades if not supported by daily inside action.

Why aren’t they making posters about my tax compromise?

My thoughts turn now to the idea of personal change. The martyr carries such strong conviction. Did they always have these convictions? What made them act out in such a strong way?

I continue to hear as popular wisdom (oxymoron) the idea espoused that people do not change. Once a person sets his/her heart in one direction, it cannot be turned. Watch any television and you will see this advice given; especially to women who seek to change a man. I also hear that America is a forgiving nation. But how can we forgive if there is no transformation in behavior? How have we come to these contradictory conclusions as a society?

But this is not my personal expertise, so I put it to our resident change agent.

Leaven, is personal change really possible? Does our culture at large believe it is? Are we a forgiving people?