When there is nothing left, no country, no home, no food, no water, no nothing to sustain or nourish us and the world becomes a threat to us with every breath we take—we run.
We run to wherever we think that we can find safety. We move immediately into either fight or flight, and if it is flight we run. All of us do it. All of us.
It is a human response.
Some of us only have to run across the kitchen to be safe, or run across the bar, or across the street or the jail cell, but some of us have to run across oceans to a whole other world. We pick up the few belongings that we cannot do without and we pick up and carry our children because they cannot run fast enough on their own and we run. We run for our lives. Or for new lives. Or for other lives—any lives other than the ones we are running from.
We are desperate, and because we are almost there we bump and we jostle, but we keep on running because running is the only thing left to do.
Someone sticks out their foot and trips us.
A video has emerged of a female Hungarian news photographer who does just that. She sticks out her foot and trips a man who is carrying a child and makes him fall. From all appearances, she does it deliberately. (Watch the video here.)
Why would she do such a thing?
Was she looking for more colorful footage?
Had she been bumped into?
Was she angry? Vengeful?
“Don’t push me around.” Is that what she was thinking?
Maybe she was trying to help the police.
In a second video, a woman who appears to be the same one (she is dressed exactly the same and the scene is the same) sticks her foot out and kicks a little girl who is about 9 or 10 in the stomach as the child is fleeing for safety with an adult.
Yes, there was chaos, and yes, when there is chaos and panic it is contagious and maybe she was afraid and yes, yes, yes. All of that is true.
But the photographer is safe. She has a country and a home and food and even a job—or did have a job—she is not hungry, she does not have to sleep outside in the frigid cold, she does not have to hold a baby with a freezing diaper when there are no other diapers left, or hold a child who is shivering when there are no blankets left or hold a woman who is pregnant whose pains have started when there are no doctors left.
From her body language, the photographer looks almost casual in her actions, as if she didn’t give what she was doing a thought. As if tripping running, desperate people so that they would fall didn’t matter—almost as if to her she wasn’t tripping “real” people.
She was just filming migrants.
This little tiny bit of video is a huge picture of what it looks like when one person dehumanizes others.
Go to Facebook. Look at the memes there. There are hundreds of them a day about loving one another, about being the light for each other, about compassion, about understanding and empathy, and leading the way through kindness. Go to Facebook. You will see these memes.
Perhaps even this photographer had these kinds of memes on her Facebook page. We don’t know. Her page has been taken down.
What we do know is this:
Until we are in a situation, we do not really know how we will behave—and to give this photographer the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she was overcome or confused or disoriented and she did not know that she was going to do the unspeakably low thing that she did.
But then, she did it. We all saw her do it.
And the irony of it is that her behavior makes us want to dehumanize her.
Crises, chaos and the challenge to remain human.
Some of us are capable of it—and some of us fail.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Video Still