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Ideas, Life

Lessons from John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

This is no surprise if you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, but this season of life has brought with it the sobering reality of our human capacity to hurt.

And every time my mind (or my heart) lands in this place of awe, I instinctively think of a song by Sufjan Stevens titled John Wayne Gasey, Jr.  This is a song about the man who is responsible for the deaths of 33 young men and boys.  It’s an incredible song about his life, his story, and the horrendous, irrevocable hurt he caused.

It is the final lyrics of this song, however, that are most incredible:

“And in my best behavior 
I am really just like him 
Look beneath the floorboards 
For the secrets I have hid.”

As I recognize the depths of my ability to feel and realize hurt, I must temper this with the equally sobering reality that I am capable of creating the same hurt (potentially even worse) in others.

I’m not claiming that this diminishes or cheapens the state of my own hurt, but it does shift my perspective.  It has to.

None of us are only victims or only villains.

We are a messy tangling of both.

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About Samantha Curley

Hi! My name is Samantha Curley. I live in Pasadena, California where I run a non-profit organization called Level Ground (onlevelground.org). I like to ponder, ask questions, and share stories about life, art, and faith.

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