Today is Easter Sunday, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. It is supposed to celebrate the return of the Lord and Saviour from the dead. The Scriptures proclaim that Jesus the Christ died on the cross on Good Friday after some of the worst beating any human ever suffered. It is said that he did not complain.
As I reflect on the public torture that Jesus endured, I cannot help but reflect on the torture that some in this modern society have had to endure. Just this past week, a lady came to me to complain about the treatment her son received at the hands of the police.
As she put it, her son was arrested for simple larceny. She said that he has a mental illness and on many occasions she has had to call on the police to help restrain him. Since his condition is known to the police, she could not understand their treatment of him. Not only did they put him in a cell, but they also took him out, she said, and carried him to the backlands where they beat the living daylights out of him.
When she spoke to the officer in charge of the Suddie police station, the man reportedly asked her if her son had fathered any children. When she answered in the negative, the man reportedly told her that she had nothing to worry about, then.
Not only was that callous, but it exposed the reaction of the people entrusted with maintaining peace to people with mental illness. It also exposes something else. It exposes the human delight in torturing others.
This very woman spoke of another young man who was arrested while she was at the Suddie Police Station. The man was shackled, so there was no possibility of him escaping. According to her, the man objected to being placed in the Suddie lock-ups, which she said is not fit for human habitation.
Immediately the man was set upon by a group of policemen in the compound and struck in the face and other parts of the body, so severely that blood flowed. There must have been some joy in this for the vicious policemen.
There are other instances of this. I know of a case where Claudius Sam, now deceased, was taken to the back of the Botanical Gardens and beaten. The report is that the police ranks who took him there almost drowned him. Then they sheared his locks, which his sisters managed to recover and bring to the media.
These days such beatings of suspects continue to the extent that many a defendant or accused who appear in court challenge their statements on the grounds that the statements were extracted by violent means.
Not only the police beat people. There is the vigilante justice. People would catch a thief and beat him, sometimes killing him. There was this young black man who was mentally ill and happened to wander into a West Bank Demerara community. The people questioned him and in his disoriented state, he must have given them answers that they could not comprehend. The people beat him to death.
A young prisoner was found with some bullets when he returned to the Camp Street jail. As it was told to me, the officers beat the young man until his flesh separated from his body. He died. The pants he wore was found in a cupboard, smelling to high heavens because of the rotting flesh it contained.
Even prisoners exact their vengeance. Just recently a man who was convicted of molesting an eight-year-old girl and sentenced to a prolonged term in jail got a beating. Someone also chopped him. He is alive to tell the story and think about the act he committed.
Another prisoner who chopped his three children to death got similar treatment. His sister told me that her phone rang and the prisoners who called her wanted her to hear what happened to child killers. She said that she heard the blows rain down on her brother. The man was to get another beating a few days later, as if the first was not enough.
I understand that this is standard treatment in any part of the world for people who molest children. It is as if even prisoners have a code. Adults are one thing, but children are out of bounds.
There must be some sadistic joy in mob violence. It is as if the basic animal crawls into the human psyche. How else can one explain the behaviour of human beings who under normal conditions would not harm a fly if these people are alone?
I see dogs behave in this way. One dog would stand and bark at something or at a person, but as soon as others join in, the charge begins. I have seen a pack of dogs kill. And so it was with Jesus the Christ. There he was, accused of a crime that even the ruler of the day could not support, but the mob smelled and wanted blood.
The crucifixion was the end of the mob behaviour. When the execution was over they slunk home, sated with what they had participated in and witnessed.
The celebration on that Sunday could be understood. Jesus the Christ had survived the mob violence. But it must have been a very sore man who emerged from the tomb. Some say he ascended into Heaven; others say that he went to India and preached until he died of a ripe old age.
Whatever the case, Christians the world over are celebrating. The churches have been adorned in white, a change from the mournful purple that adorned the altars and pulpits during the preceding days.
In Guyana, kites would adorn the skies symbolizing the rising of the Christ. There is this joy, but when it is all over, the cycle of violence would continue until the next Easter.
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