The never-ending connection problems from my network provider left me idle and without much to do these last two days. And without much to do, my ever-active mind wandered on a journey of its own.
Somehow an article I’d read previously about a group of soldiers mercilessly torturing and stabbing to death a supposed rebel in Central African Republic had my mind twisting and tossing over our inexplicable animal need to inflict pain on others. You see it everywhere. Read about it more often than is acceptable. Hear tales about it each time you listen closely.
I recalled the numerous incidents of physical child abuse in recent years – the woman who heartlessly flogged a little boy of not more than twelve, a hundred (100) lashes of the cane for stealing N50.00; the woman who burnt a girl’s thighs for supposedly stealing N1,000.00; another who also used hot pressing iron on her fourteen year old maid for being promiscuous. The list is unending when it comes to abuse suffered by helpless children in homes they find themselves.
But it’s not just children who are victims of these crave for inflicting pain, young adults, men and women are too. I hardly think that Nigerians will forget in a hurry the malicious and inhuman lynching of four University of Port Harcourt students in 2012, the popularly tagged ‘Aluu 4’ massacre. Surely their families never will.
I recalled the horrible lynching my mother once witnessed years ago at the popular Onitsha market, where ‘jungle justice’ thrives. A young man was beaten and burnt to death because he stole a packet of seasoning cube that barely cost N150.00 then
It doesn’t matter what we call it – ‘jungle justice’; ‘tit-for-tat’; ‘payback’. It doesn’t matter what we call it or how we justify it. The issue is that there is an incomprehensible thirst within us to inflict pain. There is this mad crave to strike back, and harder when we feel slighted.
A crime has no doubt been committed. Someone without dispute has been wronged and offended, but does justice lie with us? Have we the right to mete out the ‘well-deserved’ punishment? Or is it just something unrecognisable and unacknowledged crawling about in us that pushes us to hit back and hit harder than we’ve been hit.
Every time I’ve heard of such inhuman acts I have cringed in horror and swore myself incapable of such vicious acts. I probably am incapable of going to the length of lynching, burning with hot iron and so on. But am I not guilty of this same unfathomable crave for vengeance? I mean when M. does anything to hurt me, the urge to hurt him back creeps about in me. And I stalk and scheme until I find my perfect moment to strike back… is that not in some small-level same thing?
They say that there is good and bad in each one of us. I am guessing that this malicious vengeful crave rises from the bad and I am also guessing that most of us know it. We recognise it in us when we lash out with cruel words or strike out to hit someone. We sense it when deep within us we are plotting our payback action. Above all, we know it when we feel that instantaneous sadistic pleasure when ‘our victim’ howls or cries out in pain.
What are we going to do about it? That is my question. Let us ponder over this question as we peruse the words below –
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9
“Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.” Proverbs 24:29
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
― Gautama Buddha
“Never respond to an angry person with a fiery comeback, even if he deserves it…Don’t allow his anger to become your anger.”
― Bohdi Sanders, Warrior Wisdom: Ageless Wisdom for the Modern Warrior
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“But men often mistake killing and revenge for justice. They seldom have the stomach for justice.”
― Robert Jordan
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19