Vengeance vs. Humanity

Last Saturday I watched something on the news that really stirred my thoughts. I don’t know what to make of the whole scenario until now but one thing’s a surety; it left me deeply tormented.  See there was this guy who had allegedly confessed to murder. He was also said to have been involved in some rape cases. After reporting the matter to the authorities and being subsequently ignored, the residents got tired and decided to take matters into their own hands. They cornered the suspect and decided to lynch him in broad daylight.

In anger, the residents doused him in gas and set him ablaze. I don’t know how on earth he managed, but the lucky guy escaped the angry mob. By then he had already been severely burnt. He had huge pink patches, where the skin had peeled off. I had trouble looking at the images and what made it even worse was seeing him begging people to take him to hospital as he was in so much pain. There wasn’t a tear drop on his face, but I could feel his pain.

Passers-by watched him walk under the blistering sun and no one offered to help. Bravely, he walked three kilometers, shoulders slouched, I imagine from all the pain, clothed only in a pair of black slacks. I watched as cars passed by and not even a single driver offered to rush him to hospital. Finally, I would say by God’s grace, he made it to hospital. On arrival the first thing he asked for was water and everyone around him just watched. Not even the nurses at the main desk felt moved by his agonizing state. I don’t know if anyone brought him water, but they said he was admitted there.

That clip gave me so much to think about: Firstly, I wondered where the police were by the time the residents decided to punish the guy for his sins. I imagined, if they had nabbed him they would have prevented the man from suffering, what I term a living hell; he tasted the fierce fires before dying.  Secondly, wasn’t there a Good Samaritan who could have offered to take him to hospital? I can vividly see the long strings of flesh dangling from his body as he walked to hospital. There’s just nothing fun about it; it made all the horror movies I’ve watched feel like heaven. I guess it’s because at the back of my head I knew there weren’t any scripts, cameras and lights; it was all real.

However, in my own head I still figured, people were still furious at him for all the atrocities he had committed. I could only imagine what the families of his rape and murder victims felt. Looking at it from that perspective I feel he was even lucky to have made it out alive because it’s clear the mob was bent on killing him. The reporters described it as ‘nine lives’; couldn’t agree more. So as much as I want to fault the residents for not rushing him to hospital, a part of me understands why no one felt kind enough to save the life of a man who had hurt/taken their own.

On the same point I also figured, someone might have offered to help him out, but if indeed the suspect’s a true leopard, never changing its spots and all, I imagined once he was better he would go back to avenge himself. So again, the residents would be in trouble. Up until now I haven’t been able to push the images out of my head; it was just horrifying. As the clip was being played some parts of his back were blurred and I would presume it was to protect viewers from the gory images.

I understood the residents felt let down by the authorities for not dealing with the suspect and that had obviously pushed them into attempting to lynch the man. That however, didn’t stop me from wondering what God thought of the whole scenario. He says, “Vengeance is mine.” So does He understand why the residents attacked the man? Will He pardon them for trying to take a man’s life, as guilty as he was? Will He understand all the passers-by who saw the man walking in the sun with serious burns and failed to help him?

What would Jesus have done?

Based on all the teachings from the bible, I imagine He would have suggested the man be taken to hospital and when he was much better he would have been handed over to the police. But that still makes me wonder, would there have been a person brave and kind enough to help the same man who had subjected them to so much misery? Killing and raping their loved ones?

After trying to make sense of the whole scenario, I finally came to the million dollar question: When all that was happening, where was God? He was watching, that entire time. I’ve learnt that He doesn’t interfere with people’s choices; He’ll guide, through the conscience-that small voice in our heads-but he doesn’t force His will on us. So chances are, the residents will have their own cases to answer; and about the guy, I just figured, God let him get set on fire and He still didn’t let him die.

If the guy had died, he wouldn’t have suffered as much as he did; but then, he wouldn’t have had the chance to repent. God gave him a second chance; if he survives, he will have the scars to remind him of his past iniquities. He can choose to be changed by his painful experience, or become a worse villain, seeking only vengeance.

That story made me think a lot; about humanity being challenged by the need for vengeance. It appears the lines become blurry, where one has to be compassionate towards those who cause them harm.

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