“So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.”
― Seamus Heaney
The Delhi gang rapes sickened me physically. For days and weeks I could not stop imagining the brutality of the attack and the callous, cold cruelty of the six men who tortured and raped the young woman they had in their clutches. Only God could forgive such barbaric acts.
And none of us are God.
But every time I look at the photos of the four men who have just been sentenced to death, I think of their parents choosing their names. I think about them as babies, about the hope they must have represented to their families, about the dreams their mothers would have had for them and about the way it all went so horribly, desperately wrong.
I am not trying to sentimentalize them. They were selfish and brutal; they were devoid of any human feeling and what they did was monstrous and beyond any possible understanding.
Only God could fathom them. And none of us are God.
I cannot even begin to imagine the enormous ocean of grief the young woman’s family must be floating in, the way they must replay the images of their daughter’s torture over and over in their minds, the way their sleep must be haunted by the memory of what she suffered and the way peace must elude them so completely they can only think of justice and revenge.
Only God could heal them. And none of us are God.
The death sentence was inevitable. The public has been baying for blood for weeks now and the political backlash would have been too much to withstand had the sentence been any different. There would have been outrage and rioting in the streets.
So these four depraved men will be tossed to the lions. The crowds will be appeased. The rage will subside and the moment when we could have begun a different sort of journey will pass us by again.
Because we must never delude ourselves that justice has been served, that anything has changed or that a young woman’s death was not completely and totally in vain. In the nine months since her horrific death, how many other women have been raped and murdered? How many little girls have been mutilated, abused and trafficked? How many girls and women have further restricted their freedom, further withdrawn from public life, further been humiliated, taunted, harassed and attacked?
Nothing has changed. No one has been healed. There is no closure and there is no justice.
The celebrations on the streets now that these men will hang sicken me almost as much as what they did to that young woman. There is nothing to celebrate. There have been no lessons learned. There has been no victory won. We are exactly where we were in December of last year.
Except that now we are doing what only God should do. And none of us are God.