I must confess that I have been sucked into the vortex of the Stanford rape case and all of those casting their hats into the compassion ring of support for this anonymous young woman whose life is forever changed. Most of those words are aimed at the perpetrator of this heinous crime or the father who so passionately tried to excuse and minimize his son’s behavior as 20 minutes of action or the judge who so leniently sentenced him to a perfunctory stint of punishment because he had no prior legal problems. Aren’t some things just stand-alone-horrible-enough to warrant a strong consequence, instead of mocking the seriousness of such an assault?
This is a story that has wrapped itself tightly around my heart. I HATE what happened to her. I HATE that it has ever happened or will happen to anyone. It has caused me to evaluate and empathize to an epic degree. Really this is about all of us, isn’t it? This touches us all. We are parents of sons and daughters, siblings of brothers and sisters, teachers and coaches of boys and girls, and friends of equal gender. I have sons….it would sincerely devastate me to know that they would EVER do such a thing to a female. I would like to believe that I would want them to experience the consequences of that behavior, as monumentally difficult as that would be to stand by and witness. My heart would break for them, but I would want them to fully realize the magnitude of what they had chosen to do to another human being. It is understandable to want to protect our children, but not at the expense of a choice that has seriously harmed another. For if not learned early in life, what roads will later be taken? If “excused” for such a sin against humanity, I wonder how easy it might be to cross another line. I remember writing each of my sons a letter when they left for college, worrying if we had taught them enough, encouraged them enough, and poured enough wisdom into their ability to make good choices. I remember warning them that some of their choices might not be the best, but that others could be life changing and to put much thought into their actions, never dreaming of such a scenario as this.
I never had a daughter, but thinking of my precious daughters-in-law, it would equally devastate me to know that they had been violated in such a way by a male. (I choose NOT to even call him a “man” because he would not deserve that title). The Mother Tiger instinct in me would want to kill the perpetrator of such an act. It hurts to know the burden that this woman will always carry with her, about herself and her worth, and about the future man who will love her and cherish her, but will also share that burden. It will be a backpack that they will never fully be able to take off.
I recently read the rape victim’s letter read to the young man convicted of raping her. In it, she enclosed the Anne Lamott quote. “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. ” Those words literally stood out glaringly to me as a metaphor for this young woman. She IS a lighthouse, a beacon of courage for others who have or will stand in those same unwanted shoes. She honestly took responsibility for her own poor choices made that night. She transparently invites us into her humiliation and the inevitable fall-out of devastation. She bravely holds a mirror up to the raw ugliness of the wrong doing and its permanent effect on her soul. She thankfully applauds her bicycle heroes, and the countless others who protected her, supported her, believed her, and cared for her. Her words encourage us all to raise our game. We all need to become lighthouses…. of courage, honesty, transparency, bravery, gratitude, and hope in our respective worlds of influence. The more light that shines, the less the darkness.
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. ~ Luke 11:33