-Mob Justice – You call Me a Bad Name?
It is said that “If you want to kill a dog, give it a bad name”. Someone who does not appreciate you would always have something negative to say about you, real or unreal. As humans, in our inter-personal interactions and relations, things happen and we find ourselves speaking about another in a negative light. This may be normal, but often not the best of circumstance, especially where it completely denies the person of any positive qualities, or castigated as though he or she has no atom of goodness. A person may have some weak points, but he or she has some strengths and good qualities too. Though, it does not mean that we deny when something goes wrong or we colour ‘black’ situations as ‘white’. It is still important to call a spade a spade, especially to one’s self.
However, the emphasis in this piece is when we colour a person “bad”, not from an objective point of view. There is something about this person that you just don’t like; not necessarily that the person has done any wrong thing to you – “You colour me bad.” This could be out of envy and jealousy, which may even be unconscious. In fact, when asked if you envy this person, you would easily say that you have nothing to envy about this person.
Could it be that this person is generally doing well, or s/he is generally friendly and easily liked by others? This becomes a reason to “Colour me bad”. However, remember that giving me a bad name does not add to your good name.
Such happens in everyday life. The bad name calling happens in families, communities, social groups, work place settings, in politics and in many human engagements.
As parents, if we make a habit of always colouring our kids bad, a lot of that tends to stick with them through life. Surely, no parent wants that!
In our public sphere today, we hear of and may have seen mob justice take place. Have you ever witnessed a situation of mob-justice? At such moments, you see human beings let loose and behave like animals. They descend on their victim as though their lives depended on it. All they craze for at that moment is to see the blood of the victim flow. A quick look tells you that the crowd would hurt, injure and would kill the victim so easily. “You colour me bad and kill me.” Even persons who have no idea if this is an innocent victim or not, hold on to the name called and pick up stones to end that life.
Mind you, the criminal guys who are mobbed are no less cruel in calling their victims a bad name. They steal, attack, destroy, loot and/or kill as though other humans were just inanimate objects.
Once I had gone to the market to plait my hair, and suddenly, there was an uproar. A crowd of market persons began crowding and following a young man. What was his offence? He had just snatched a phone from a lady sitting in a parked vehicle. My! The place was in chaos. Even the young man attending to me suddenly left and picked up his own item to club the alleged thief.
In no time, the young man was already bleeding from the head. He had to return the phone before he was left to walk away, nursing his bleeding head, as he held it with his shirt. As he walked past alone, I thought to myself, “This guy would have simply lost his precious life to mob justice for a phone theft!”.
When you speak to persons involved in mob justice, they give you multiple reasons why they take the law into their hands rather than take the person or persons to the police. One reason they would tell you is that it serves as an immediate warning to others to desist from similar acts or crimes. They people in the locality may not have enough confidence in the local police to deal with the issue. No reason justifies mob justice as it could also become a tool for revenge for even simple offences done against someone. Besides, the law on Presumption of Innocence protects a person as being innocent until proven guilty.
Back to calling me bad, if someone comes to you venting negatively about another person, don’t be quick to add to the bitterness, hurt and pain. Perhaps, this person simply needs a listening ear – just hear me out. Or perhaps, you could point out a different perspective or way of looking at the issue, to the person. However, it may be that you too have suffered some negative experience from that person, and this complaint prompts you to also begin venting your anger.
All in all, this person you speak about can’t be all bad. Now that you know his/her weak points, perhaps you can now see how best to relate with him/her without digging the negative experience deeper, by allowing it affect your peace and goodwill towards the person.
Luke 6:28 – “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
- Linda Ellah