Across the border of pain

April 25, 2019 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

Velizar Ivanov photo



Swandy Banta



It was a Saturday morning and I was travelling to Abuja from Jos. A certain portion of my preferred route for the day was known to be notorious for armed robbery attacks. People always said how night travellers and early morning travellers were always the victims. So I decided to travel with time caution uppermost on my mind. I drove through the route with a certain familiarity I had built over the years. I often joked to my allies that I knew all the pot holes on that road by name.


This particular morning about 200 meters away from a portion of the road I knew well enough, I noticed a seeming police check point ahead. While I drove ahead, I wondered why there was a need for a new check point at that particular portion of the road until I arrived there and met them. Robbers!


It was 9:36am. I had obeyed the rules (not early not late). I was not expecting to get accosted. It was my one experience, albeit a very terrifying one. I recall how my hands and entire body trembled as I picked up what was left of my scattered personal effects after the robbery and drove feverishly to Abuja.


Fast forward to about two weeks ago on the Abuja-Kaduna express way when for three days in a row kidnappers were said to have had a field kidnapping spree with millions of naira leaving bank accounts of their victims as ransom for their freedom.


In fact I heard of a man who had to request that his car be sold by his family to raise the ransom amount.


If you doubt the seriousness of the matter, a trip to the Idu train station at Abuja will convince you. I hear that travellers are usually willing to pay higher amounts just to stand through the over two hour trip to and from Kaduna rather than ply the express way of horror.


I also remember about a month ago, when a young man drove to a mosque in New Zealand during their Friday Jumu’at prayers, loaded his rifle and entered the mosque, shooting as many Muslim faithful as he accosted while he wore a camera on his forehead recording the shootings. This episode left about 50 persons dead and several others critically injured. In the last footage of the video, a woman who had been injured already by his bullets was seen lying helplessly by the roadside pleading for help and mercy as the he aims a killer shot at her.


Recently I also read the book, “Gone in a Heartbeat” by David and Marie Works who lost their two daughters Stephanie and Rachel Works when a man decided to accost unsuspecting persons in the church area and sporadically fire lethal shots. A security guard finally subdued the shooter, but precious lives had been lost including those of their two daughters.


The persons that perpetuate these crimes. Are they human? Do they have blood running through their veins? Don’t they have feelings or empathy? They are human beings just like us. They were once innocent babies who grew up and then took this turn. They crossed a certain border. Something must have gone wrong somewhere.


Trust me I’m not here to defend them. I also want to understand them. Maybe if we understood them better it could change our perception about them and also our feelings towards them. Maybe it could also affect how we view and treat our own selves.


Some of these people could be psychopaths. You see, the thing is that a psychopath is usually less concerned about the pain they inflict on other people, whether it’s defrauding an individual, murder, etc. Sometimes they even deliberately plan these crimes with the sole aim of inflicting pain. While the affected persons cringe in pain they derive pleasure. They are just indifferent about the emotions of others.


Research suggests that these strange behaviours could be genetic, environmental or even influenced by interpersonal factors. Now, early negative childhood experiences have been found to increase the risk of an individual growing to become a psychopath. Poor parenting (focusing on punishment rather than love and also inconsistency in training) has been identified as a factor. Substance abuse by parents, separation/divorce, child abuse and even child neglect are said to contribute.


In later years complexities such as economic meltdown, joblessness and general setbacks in life when not placed in proper perspective can lead to such behaviours. While some persons may excuse these bad approaches to life on the basis of the above explanations, there are persons who have been through worse situations or circumstances in life but have deliberately chosen to CHOOSE correctly.


You see my perspective is that rather than being angry with the kidnappers on the highway, the young man who shot at worshipers in New Zealand or the one who killed the Works’ daughters, I think we should empathise with them. But most importantly we should be grateful that we are not in their shoes. Trust me the burden they bear is definitely their ultimate killer.


Now my main point is the need for us to learn through this. Terrible things happen every day. Even if the kidnappers don’t get you or nobody shoots at your place of worship, there could be an accident.


There could be a diagnosis you didn’t see coming. Life could just treat you unfairly. I urge us to always deliberately choose to place things in perspective, try to see the end from the beginning and then go right ahead to make some lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown at you.


If you are a parent, I need to tell you, that your little one’s mind is like a garden. Something will surely grow in their mind garden whether you plant or not. Now if you choose to plant (great seeds of right thinking and attitude to life), when the rain falls your seeds will yield a beautiful harvest. But even if you don’t plant, the rains will still fall and something else will grow. GRASS!


This grass could lead to drug abuse and then proceed to a mindset of crimes against humanity. It could lead to murder, rape and all sorts of hideous crimes. We don’t want to wait till it happens so we could empathise. I think we prefer to plant well and plant NOW.


Everyone is passing through one difficulty or the other, great or small. The person next to you may just be at the psychopathic border. Be nice, warm, kind and understanding.


Don’t be the one who pushes them across the border…





Swandy Banta

Swandy Banta is blue blooded, ask her what that means and she gladly tells you, she’s been through the tunnel of pain and she found illuminating light. She writes and coaches on the difficult subject of pain. Whether it’s national pain, community pain or the pain of loss and the hurts of life that makes us all ask why—she brings new perspectives. Swandy can be reached on [email protected]

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