John Pavlovitz recently wrote a letter to Dan Turner in response to Dan's letter written to a judge, on behalf of his son Brock, asking for leniency for Brock's recent rape conviction. The victim of the assault recently wrote a letter as well - by far, the most moving (and difficult to read) of all of them.
There are lots of letters going around... appropriately I guess, since humans tend to love letters, especially those in scarlet.
And all of these letters have me thinking about some things.
(I say all of these things with the obvious - maybe not - acknowledgement of being on the side of the victim. Her soul was shattered, horrifically, and we stand with her in every and any way we can to help her heal and to prevent such dehumanization of people in the future.)
How far does grace extend?
Where does grace end?
What does it look like to extend grace to an assailant?
What does it look like to humanize the rapist?
What does empathy for the villain look like?
What does empathy for the father of a criminal look like?
Are the solutions "not giving a damn" about another human being - even if it is a human who carried out a heinous crime?
Is the solution more prison time?
My main concern is this: Brock Turner (the rapist) did not see his victim as the human being that she is. That is a problem and it's a tremendously large problem that needs to be addressed. The solution, however, is not to move the blindness from him to ourselves. I fear this is often the course we take as a society.
We dehumanize the villain and throw him/her into a cell to appease justice.
It's as useful as throwing the adulteress into a volcano to appease the gods of lighting and thunder.
It's just less primitive and barbaric language.
The solution, I think, is to see her, the victim, him, the assaulter, his father, as the same: human beings created in the image of the Divine, worthy and capable of everything we, ourselves, are.
Wow, that's difficult. (It's like dying in many ways.)
But if we don't see him the way that we wish he had seen her, what have we truly solved or taught ourselves and society?
I don't pretend this isn't complicated. I don't pretend this doesn't involve justice and prison time and guilt and retribution. I don't pretend 6 months is the right amount of time in prison. I don't pretend we don't live in a grossly misogynistic, racist, privileged culture.
I also don't want to pretend that the participation in the de-humanization of any human ever gets us anywhere as a society, even if we're drunk on rage and it does feel good for a moment.