August 22, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 344

Terrorism Of Being Stoned To Death

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 21--In the modern world, the idea of "getting stoned" refers to a euphoric high induced by drugs.   But in Nigeria, it means one of the most brutal death sentences imaginable.
          The young mother above has been sentenced to death by stoning by an Islamic high court in southern Nigeria..   Her sentence has been postponed until she weans her child.   The day the child is weaned, she will walk into a circle where her peers will pick up stones, some with jagged edges, and hurl them at her until she no longer moves or breathes.

       At least that's the goal of Islamic high court which adheres to the principles of Islamic law, or Shariah.  Punishments for various crimes under this law include beheadings, stonings and amputations.
        The 30-year-old mother, Amin Lawal, clutched her baby as the sentence was read.   Divorced, she is accused of having sex out of wedlock.
       Appeals are underfoot.   Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo's civil government has declared Shariah punishments unconstitutional.   Essentially, the battle is between the fundamentalist Islamic and the Christians each of whom comprise the nation's two opposing political and religious factions.
       Two other women have faced similar charges.  One was overturned on appeal, and the other woman's disposition is delayed until she is healthy enough to appear in court.

       "This is a triumph of Allah's law against the enemies of Shariah," said Humammad Radiu, 26, an Islamic studies student.   "By this judgment, we are confident the government is serious about the implementation of Shariah."
        I find it incredible that in the 21st Century there are barbaric laws such a stoning, or that the killing of a poor, uneducated village woman would used as political pawn in a struggle power within a government.
        Fundamentally, I see the killing of the mother of a child as the issue.    I see a society in which the belief in the children's future is less important than a question of infidelity to a religious edict.
        We have civilized similar laws of barbarism.   In the Catholic Church, for example, when a couple gets divorced and wishes to remain a Catholic with access to all the sacraments, they seek an annulment within the Church.   In a sense, the divorced couple is "stoned," by being excluded from full access to the Church.   Oddly, the couple only need to prove that the marriage was not a "spiritual marriage," that "true love" did not exist when they took their vows to be reinstated, to have their original vows struck down because they were not sanctioned by "God," or "spiritually pure."   Obviously, this leaves a lot of wiggle room for couples who want to remarry within the Church.
        There is also a myth that says the children of such a Catholic marriage will become "bastards" if there is an annulment, and that their "Catholicism will be null and void" because their parents' marriage was not valid under the Church's eyes.    Fortunately, this isn't true.   Yet many Catholics believe an annulment by the Church also "nullifies" their children's rights--in essence--stones them to spiritual death in the eyes of the Church.
       Religious Terrorism is not new.  It has roots as far back as civilization itself.    Long before governments were formed by people, religious laws ruled the land.    The courts and judges were "men of the cloth" who established regulations for people and when they were violated, meted out punishment.
      The Inquisition was one such bloody example.

        Nathanial Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" was another.  In the famous novel he depicts a woman accused of being an adulteress, sentenced to have an "A" burned on her forehead.
       But in the 21st Century, when we as human beings think we have evolved so far so fast with all our computer chips, nuclear missiles, space exploration, extension of life through transplants and modern medical miracles, we are driven back to the guts of the Beast Within--that creature in us who leaps with joy as it picks up a rock and hurls it at a poor mother who has just weaned her child.
       It would seem that civilization has not advanced much at all beyond the front of the cave door, littered with the bones of all who did not bow to the gods of brutality.
       Cutting through the red tape of civilized versus uncivilized is the business of Vigilance.    It has a universality to it that can apply not only to the most modern of societies, but to the most primitive as well.
       In our "most civilized" society, we allow young babies to be stoned to death each day through the process of abortion.   Over a million annually are "stoned to death" in the United States at the whim of a mother who elects not to have a child, or decides that the sex of the child is wrong, or feels she cannot bear the responsibility of motherhood and chooses to sentence her child to being sucked out of her womb by a vacuum cleaner.

Aborted baby hand holds on to surgeon's finger

      Our liberal divorce laws that allow couples to deconstruct their marriages stone the children of the family, forcing them to believe that marriage is not about "what's right for the children," but rather "what's comfortable for the parents."   In the U.S. alone--the alleged leader of civilization--half of all marriages end in divorce, disenfranchising the children of that marriage from their parents, stoning the concept of "family."
       Worse yet is the stoning of a child through physical or emotional abuse.   Children wear two kinds of scars from such stoning--one representing physical bruises, broken bones and constant fear of being hit or slapped by a raging parent, and, two, emotional abuse which bruises and defaces a child's sense of self worth, twists its sense of "being loved unconditionally," to being "hated unconditionally."

 A mother's or father's comment:  "You're no good.   You're ugly.   You're not smart enough.   Don't bother me.   Can't you do what your told?   Why can't you be like other kids..." all compound into stones, hurled at a child's fragile ego, smarting, painful jagged rocks that cut deep into the quick of the child's soul and drive it to hide under the covers at night for fear the boogeyman--the one in the living room--doesn't love it, that it is unwanted, unloved.
      This kind of Parental Emotional or Physical Terrorism is not unlike that barbaric act about to take place in a rural village in Nigeria.   It happens next door in America and around the world, hidden in the wrapping of civilization, but just as brutal to the victim as the cutting edge of a stone thrown at it.
      Parents of Vigilance vow to not be Parents of Terrorism.   They know the difference between the two.   On the Terrorism side is Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.    On the other, Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.
      A Parent of Vigilance about to lash out at his or her child clips his or her tongue.   Such a parent recognizes that words are rocks, thrown at a child, stoning him or her into states of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.

        Such a Parent of Vigilance halts the lambasting, forces his or her release of the stoning rock, and drives the parent to kneel or sit  and begin to talk with the child as an equal, reminding himself or herself that the child only wants to know he or she is loved, only wants the parent to step out of the "me-ism" into the "we-ism" of parent-child relations.
       Terrorism is easy.  It doesn't take any effort to yell or scream at or threaten a child.  It doesn't take much will power to reach out and smack a child, or angrily shake him or her, or to deny it the attention it demands.
       Vigilance isn't easy.  It takes a belief in the children as the focus of all value before it can overpower Terrorism.   It means we must not only think about how our actions will affect the child, but also that child's children's children's children.    It also requires that we see ourselves in the child, part of us yearning to be loved stored in the genes we passed on.
       If weren't loved the way we wanted to be loved by our parents, we can change that outlook with our children.  We can instill in the child the Courage, Conviction and ability to take the Right Actions that will turn them from nagging, demanding "rug rats" into beautiful flowers that need lots of fertile soil and water to grow and blossom.

           So before we throw rocks at the decision in Nigeria to stone to death a young mother, perhaps we should look at ourselves in the mirror and see if we have rocks in our hands.
       If we do, maybe it's time to "drop the stoning rocks" and pick up the "Flowers of Vigilance."
       The first step in that direction is to take the Pledge of Vigilance, and read it each morning.   It will keep your hands free of rocks.


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