A judge just sentenced a Stanford University star athlete–who was caught in the act of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman–to only six months in jail. The rapist’s father lobbied for a light sentence because his son’s crime involved only “20 minutes of action.” Since when do sentences relate to how long it takes to commit a crime? I’d venture a guess that most mass murders in schools, universities, fast food restaurants, and government buildings take only a few awful seconds to actually commit. I wonder how long it took the judge, who had been a Stanford student athlete to pass the sentence?
Perpetrator, judge, and bike-riding interveners were like anyone who does a good deed or commits a crime. It takes a mindset. It takes a way of thinking. “I can get away with predation” for the rapist. “Predation is not a real crime” for the judge. “Hey stop that!” for the two grad students who observed the crime being committed and chased down the fleeing rapist. According to the police report, one of these heroes “said it was a very disturbing event for him to witness and be involved in, but he just reacted to the situation at hand without really thinking.” Why? Because he was already on a path of integrity. Patterns are created. Momentum carries these patterns forward.
Each of us takes actions based on the path we are already walking and have been walking choice by choice, until we no longer think about it. The future is only predictable in terms of likelihood based on continuing our present path. But we have the power to change it, because we have freewill. We can change our path by deciding to make a different choice and keep making similar new choices.
This is how character change and soul growth occurs. We stop in our tracks and we start thinking about where our steps have taken us and where, if we keep on making the same unconscious choices, we will end up. This is how smokers stop smoking. How alcoholics stop drinking. How racists wake up from the nightmare they live within. How men who are brought up in misogynistic families of origin and rape culture become fair-minded and considerate men, or even heroes.
Usually, these changes are prompted by the natural and appropriate consequences of our actions. To take away the consequences, or soften them so as to make them inappropriate and an insult to those who have been harmed condones and enables bad behavior. It doesn’t stop the karma bus, it just earns you a ticket for an appointment with that vehicle.
Part of the natural and appropriate consequences for bad behavior is how people in community respond to the public actions of others. How we acknowledge good work and how we repudiate that which causes harm to others. Here is an opportunity to respond that will take you maybe 30 seconds of “action.” http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/stanford_judgeperskyrecall/?sp_ref=.39.169697.f.535905.2&source=sp_fbook
Thank you and God bless,