Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Family of Mann

 In response to People Magazine's article - "Out of the Shadows"

We were once like most families, proud of the accomplishments of some, snickering a little at the foibles of others, but glad to be counted among its members. It was the home we went to when we needed shelter, and it served as a blanket to keep us warm when the cold of winter descended. The cold is now upon us, having  permeated to the core of our being.

The family of Mann is fractured. Much like the ground along the fault line of an earthquake, below a calm exterior was a festering disease. We were transfixed by our academic excellence and fooled into believing that intellectual strength required coupling with moral integrity. Those who would do us wrong, rob us of our good name, worked in the shadows, hidden from our sight. They preyed upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable. They ate the meat from their bones, and left behind  pain and suffering of unimaginable proportion.

Horace Mann was not the beneficent god we thought it was. It was not even the uncle who was a bit off but harmless. At its very core there has been revealed a heart of darkness

So much good has been laid to waste by the revelations that continue to surface, continue to remind us never to really place our trust in anyone or anything. All the memories we carried with us over the last half century are now tinged with doubt. Question permeates every past certainty, confusion existing where there once unfettered clarity.

A band of thieves have stolen our pride and left our blanket in tatters. When we speak of Horace Mann these days, we do so in far more subdued tone, often with apology. We distance ourselves from its tragedies rather than revel in its triumphs.

It would be easy to treat this as a problem whose time has passed, the perpetrators having long left the scene, many having long left this earth. But our family would still be riddled with an illness left untreated. We owe it to those who have been most battered and beaten not to forget. If we are ever to put our family back together again, to be made whole, or at least as close to whole as we can, we must confront the sins of the past and do what we can to make things right. Until that day comes to pass, we can never again call ourselves the family of Mann.

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