“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” ― Flannery O’ Connor
On my way in to the office this morning, I heard a report from the Sandusky sex-abuse trail that a psychologist has deemed Jerry Sandusky as having a personality disorder. I believe they are referring to the “Histrionic Personality Disorder” which they seemingly suggest is the reason he has such a high need to be appreciated (admired?) which caused his “inappropriate actions.”
Personality disorders are real, there is no disputing that fact. What I find offensive is the notion that having a disorder like this is the real culprit behind these egregious and evil acts of violence towards countless young boys. This excuse is an abusive use of non-scientific theory intended to lessen the consequences of Sandusky’s actions. There is so much grey area in the realm of personality disorders that if the need to be appreciated is the evidence for such a disorder, then every one of us should be sent to a hospital.
I don’t know if he is guilty or not. I don’t know what happened in the showers, in the bedrooms, or in the car with those boys. But I do know that now is not the time for Sandusky to pull out his personality disorder as the “get out of jail free” card it seems to be intended for. Evidently the defense believes if you have a personality disorder, you’re not accountable for abusing young boys. This is offensive to me, and I hope to you.
The human condition is broken. We all do stupid, inappropriate, and sometimes harmful actions towards ourselves and others. Sandusky is no different in his condition. He’s just like you and me. He’s a wounded man who let the pain of his condition and life dictate his actions towards others. However, if we’re willing to put down our swords and stones, we can learn something from him.
If you leave your wounds alone, they will resurface and wound others. Hurt people, hurt people.
It’s our responsibility to consider what stories we have lived and experienced as a way to keep ourselves from reenacting our stories with other people.
If you mess up, own it. Take responsibility for your actions. It’s not “if” you’ll screw up, it’s “when.” There is too much energy spent hiding the truth and skirting responsibility. Truth is a powerful motivator. If we tell the truth, judgement from ourselves and others is not too far away. Relationships might be lost, financial ruin could happen, and reputations might be tarnished. These are the risks of telling the truth.
What’s to be gained? Being known, trust in others, healing of our deep and dark wounds, and forgiveness of ourselves and others. When we hide what we have done and left undone, we prevent others from being able to give grace, mercy, and kindness. Yes, we risk being chastised and hurt, but if that’s the best those around you have to offer, perhaps those relationships aren’t the best.
It’s a simple formula that we will all spend the rest of our lives trying to cheat the system:
Know the truth.
Tell the truth.
Trust in the process.