I started the day yesterday watching one of those disturbing videos that one finds on social media. And then the day deteriorated from there…aside from a lovely coffee had with a lovely person…but I digress. It was a video from somewhere in Africa of a person being roughed up in the streets. I could not make out the language spoken so I am not entirely sure where exactly it is from. The men tore this person’s clothes off, slapped them, kicked them, spat at them. All so gleefully. I could feel the joy they derived from hurting this person. I could only assume that the reason this was happening was because the victim did not present in the way these men expected them to. Pants that were a bit tighter than the men assaulting wanted them. A shirt that may have been a bit too effeminate. Some make up on the face. These are the things that I am assuming caused this person to be violated so.
I have seen way too many such videos. They should not be showing up on the internet in this day and age, but they still do. And it is such a shame that people will exert their energy to cause pain and harm on another person just because the other person is different. I am beginning to believe that my ideal of everyone accepting, understanding and respecting diversity is incredibly naïve. It would be a perfect world. Where we all know that we will never all be the same. Where we all know that there will be differences in dress, race, thought, religion, sexual orientation, gender among a myriad of other things that make us human. Where these differences are seen as the source of beauty in the world and not a reason to attack each other. This is probably too much to ask for. I am hopeful for that day, but that day seems to be moving further and further away.
Most, if not all countries in the world have laws condemning physical violence with words like, “use of force or violence to strike, beat, wound or do bodily harm to another”. The attack on this person by the mob was an act of violence and the attackers are criminals. The person recording the video did nothing to assist the person being attacked. They may have as well been doing the kicking and the punching. The police who seemed to have been present during the attack did not prevent the mob from kicking and punching this person. This is vile. It makes me so angry to think that incidents like these are happening in my continent. They are happening to people who have done nothing wrong. People whose only “crime” is that they love differently. That they dress differently. That they act differently. All the while, not causing harm to anyone else.
I honestly have no solution to this. If anyone does, please tell us how we can stop people from beating and killing us for being different. I would like to live in my naïve bubble of an all accepting utopia, but in doing so, I keep the status-quo going. I will therefore attempt to understand these people who hate us. The man in the video who jumped on the person’s chest while they were lying helpless and naked on the ground. The man in the video who felt the need to tear off this person’s clothes off his body. The person behind the camera.
What goes on inside their minds? Why cause harm on another human being who has not wronged you one bit? Is it maybe because you are so insecure about your own existence that you get offended by another person living their truth? Is it perhaps because you experience joy in watching another person suffer so you take your phone out to record the incident instead of assisting the person? Could it be because your heart is just filled with hate? Help me understand why. Why thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people worldwide have to live in constant fear of violence. Why we have to constantly hide our true selves from those who would be offended by our existence. All this makes me incredibly angry and sad and I want to hate the perpetrators.
But Martin Luther King Jr said something that has played out in my mind over the last two days. He said, “If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight, we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.”
It is midnight right now. We are on the threshold of a new dawn. And I am hopeful. I really am.