Among the myriad of damages that have been caused by the sheer existence of the social media, one that stands prominent is the inordinate overstretching of the freedom of expression. This of course has led to more unfortunate events like cyber bullying, spread of fake news, explicit display of profanities and a host of others. In this virtual space, just like in real life, anything can happen, albeit in a largely lawless manner.
Also, just like in real life, various news items make the round at different times. These are known as “trends.” Sometimes, these trends could emanate from online trifles. At other times, they could be based on actual occurrences in the real world. The current trend on the rape and gruesome murder of Uwaila Omozuwa is one veritable example.
This sinister incident, like every other of its kind, has elicited various reactions from the teeming population of netizens. Many have reacted with utter disgust and shock, calling for justice to take its course. Curses have been rained on both the perpetrators and those persons who seem to make a case for the criminals, either subtly or – unashamedly so – explicitly. More pragmatic people have taken their anger off the social media by taking to the streets to register their undivided solidarity with the victim and her family and to ensure that this terrible act is not swept under the carpet, like many others in the past. In the midst of the present ruckus, there exists still that fraction of the lot who remain disinterested. After all, no be my babe or my sister.
In the midst of all these reactions, I would like to state clearly that I for one am against this unholy act and sincerely hope that justice prevails when all is said and done. The shameful position taken by those who somehow try to justify the criminal acts and the snide position of the indifferent are both unenviable. However, my chagrin lies in how the majority of people who register their displeasure tend to do so. This of course is not restricted to any gender as any sane human should be pained by the unfortunate incident. These past days, I have seen all manner of comments on the issue. People have suggested that the death penalty should be meted out on all rapists. Some have wished that the genitals of all rapists would be cut off in the most horrific manner. Others have prayed “in Jesus’ name” for other unimaginable calamities to befall all rapists and potential rapists alike.
Rape is no doubt a terrible thing and remains condemnable, regardless of the circumstances. And to make matters worse, in parts of the world like ours, rapists go scot-free all the time. Recently, a female friend told me about how two of her girlfriends got raped but couldn’t do anything about it afterwards. They remain helpless, with nobody around to ease their pain. However, sometimes, I wonder what the deal actually is. What exactly do we aim to achieve with our hateful reactions in situations like this? If it is to obtain justice, I think we need to do some reevaluation. We need to ask ourselves some salient questions and answer them truthfully. Can darkness dispel darkness? Can hate quell hate? Do we really think that expressing the highest level of hatred possible for these evil men would bring an end to their actions?
One similar attribute of all humans is our shared brokenness. Some might be more broken than others but then, we are all in this together. Another similarity is the fact that no human being is completely evil. In fact, philosophers would tell you that there is no such thing as evil; it’s only a lack of good, they say. So, like a coin, we all have two distinct sides – one inclined towards the good and the other, prone to wickedness. The reason behind the human labels “good” and “bad” is no more than the fact that we tend to lean too closely towards either of these extremes quite often. It seems as though, in our outburst, we tend to forget that, no matter their crime, these individuals are still human beings and that by the virtue of their humanity, some good can still come out of them. Of course, justice must be served but then, not to the detriment of the human person. Condemn the evil deed not the doer.
There is a man named Daryl Davies, an African American who has, over the years, befriended hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members. Many, of course, would – at first thought – write off his action as foolish, given the level of hatred members of that group have displayed towards his race from time immemorial. However, the result of this man’s seemingly strange action – the conversion of many former members of this pernicious organization – would immediately shut critics up. This exemplary attitude of Davies and its attendant effect goes a long way to show us the extent to which love can quell hate, no matter its intensity. Of course, I’m not in any way suggesting we go about making friends with known rapists and murderers. That might be suicidal. However, whatever action we decide to take in response to acts like theirs has to be as humane as possible. In doing this, we set an example for these persons to learn from and just maybe, they would turn a new leaf as a result. Any vengeful desire would eventually lead us to a dead end. As the saying goes, an eye for an eye makes the world go blind.
I don’t claim to have all the answers to questions regarding how we should respond to issues like this. Nobody does. Rape, just like other evils, have just happened to become a part of our human existence and will most likely continue to be with us for a long time, no matter what is done. However, what I do know is that love makes a whole lot of difference. Like the sudden presence of light in a dark room, love illuminates the heart and dispels every atom of darkness found therein.