Solving problems with problems doesn’t really work

KAMPALA. A 43-year-old man recently axed his 65-year-old mother for failing to give him food. The man, a resident of Koro Sub-county in Gulu District, staggered to his mother’s house at midnight, demanded that the old woman serves him food.

When she said no, the man forced his way into the house and hit her several times. She died – her ribs cracked – her right leg broken. That is an account from the district Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Director following witness accounts, a visit to the scene of crime and an examination of the body.

After waking up from his drunken stupor the next day, the man, at this stage still regarded as innocent until proven guilty, will most likely say he committed the act under the influence of alcohol. He could spend the rest of his life in jail for murder or earn himself a decade or two for homicide. Either way, at 43, his life appears wasted.

In Gulu where I come from, I grew up knowing that causing harm to another is evil (not just criminal). Beating, insulting or raising a voice at your mother or father is a taboo. How then can one explain why a mature man, who should ideally be taking care of his aging mother, hit her to death. It’s unclear if he is mentally sick or whether he had other motivations for his action. Whatever it is, the absurdity of the act is grave.

My biggest discomfort with this incident and scores others that litter news articles every day, is the growing ease with which life is taken away these days. Death used to be a heavy word, its meaning even heavier. When it visited an area, communal hands would be combined to lift the weight that death comes with.

It’s a fact that the loss of life, in circumstances often unwished for, has characterized human existence. However, the frequency and circumstances under which incidents of death continue to occur, is suffocating. For 2013, it seems all its 12 months were booked for announcing deaths that occur in the weirdest of ways. Before one gets over the murder of person A, another case squeezes its way in, urging us to move on to death B, C and D…. In the end, the pricks of death become blunt and we just watch it on parade, grinding more lives dry beneath its black boot.

Unfortunately, the most unmentionable manner of taking away life seems to have become acceptable. And yet even when we kill another for issues known or unknown, the problem rarely goes with the victim/accused to the grave.

It is difficult to summon the sanctity that was attached to human life, it’s not easy to instill fear in the act of killing, and it’s almost impossible to ascertain why someone finds it so easy to kill another. But as we try to solve these puzzles, let’s first stop solving problems with problems because they never really get solved that way.

Twitter: @ahpetite