Injustice — And Possible Responses
A sentencing by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky of only 6 months to ex- Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who had been convicted of three counts of sexual assault for the attack on an unconscious woman in January 2015.
A sangha member writes (and has given their permission to have it on this site):
Anger. Recently I had posted a message on FB (ooooohhhhhh the FB…such a mine field for so many emotions)…about Judge Aaron Persky being up for re-election, thinking it was possible to vote him out (now I know is not possible since he’s unopposed). Background for anyone not familiar with Judge Aaron Persky, he is the judge who ruled on the Stanford rape case, in which a student raped an unconscious woman. I felt the sentencing was lenient and felt justice was not served. I was angry. Now that that initial reaction has worn off and my FB feed is flooded more angry posts, I have mixed emotions. Zen Buddhists believe there are consequences for actions and I felt like he was somehow escaping consequences for his actions. Now, the anger feels unproductive and the consequences for Brock Turner’s (the rapist) actions surely stretch beyond that of a cell. Also this anger doesn’t serve the survivor. Have any of you followed/read about this case? How do you feel about it?
I agree with you how it seems very lenient as a consequence! I also go to thoughts of, “If he was poor and a person of color…..!” AND, I want to say that in Buddhism we don’t shun or think we “shouldn’t” have anger — especially when we see what we deem to be injustice. A few thoughts/ideas I’ll offer to be with such strong emotions which may be useful:
1) Just that….What is the emotion which you’re dealing with? Can you be with it completely….AND also care for it in yourself.
2) Similar to when we are strong with our “own” (as in a personal/historical emotions), endeavor to look at and be with the PROCESS that’s happening (wanting to “mouth off,” or “collapse,” or “rage,” etc.
3) After being with it for awhile, can we then bring in wisdom by reflecting upon possible consequences for what WE/I do if I…….(perhaps, continue to “mouth off,” or “collapse,” or “rage,” etc.) Or
4) Where might my energy (especially this one that’s arising from this anger) be BEST place to be useful/appropriate? Either for the “cause” (such as, justice around violence against women — like signing a petition) or for myself in the moment (such as, running a mile to get rid of the comfortableness of anger; or joining a rape crisis center, or…) Those are my thoughts at this moment. May they be useful to you….And, for the ending of suffering for all beings.
PS: Persky was re-elected because he had no challengers on the ballot. However, he can be recalled. Here are a few petitions you’re invited to sign if you choose: