At the bottom of this post there’s a link to an article about some Nigerian students who were beaten, and burned to death for stealing some laptops. The video is graphic, so I strongly recommend not watching it. The only reason I write this post is that my reaction to this story was mildly interesting.
I first skimmed the article and watched the very beginning of the video. Horrified by the graphic nature of the video, I quickly turned it off. So here’s the interesting thing. The feelings I had for the victims were blurred by horror and revulsion. But the feelings I had for the villagers who punished these students were crystal clear–I felt sorry for them that they could be so “broken” that they would do such a thing. And I use the word “broken” not so much in a judgmental way, but I just don’t have a better word for it. It struck me odd that the compassion I was feeling for the villagers was more clear than what I was feeling for the students. I started feeling judgmental of myself for my feelings, but that didn’t last long. My introspective feelings became more that of curiosity. Curious that I couldn’t feel angry at the villagers, but rather felt sorry for them. Curious that my feelings about the students were a blur of sadness, revulsion, and fear. Curious that I had no feelings of outrage.
A week or so later, I watched the whole video. The only thing I remember feeling was my wishing/praying/begging that the students be knocked unconscious so they wouldn’t feel any more pain, as it was clear where things were headed… it was rather horrific. And then sadness took over.
When all is said and done, I find it interesting that I had preconceived notions about how I “should” feel about an atrocity such as this. It was interesting that I was briefly judgmental of myself. And then I found it interesting that I found my reaction more of a curiosity. So what do I conclude from all this? Nothing really. It is what it is.