The Capital Punishment: Divine Retribution or Human Indifference?
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CAST THE FIRST STONE....
Capital Punishment by Divine Intervention and Human Indifference?
In collective oriented societies the Capital Punishment by stoning to death existed long before the formal Lex Talionis, (An Eye for an Eye), was expressed in the Torah. The individual who endangered the normative reproduction pattern and thus threatening the clan, the tribe, the family or inter related group by deviation in forms of conscious and deliberate individualism was conceived as an anomaly to instantly abort.
We have every reason to believe that this sinister canon (popular heredity law) already was implemented long before 5000 years B.C. when the world was believed to have been created according to Genesis in the Old Testament. Perpetual revenge, blood feuds and vendettas stretching over centuries are still part of formerly nomad or transhumance cultures currently in the Balkan (Albania, Greece inter alia) to Sicily and Italy and in less severe forms on the Iberian Peninsula and all former colonies. Crossing the Mediterranean to North Africa this instrument to uphold traditional patterns are paramount, but for somewhat different reasons.
In a biologically poor habitat with severe living and survival conditions the concept of the capital punishment may be seen from a functional perspective. One single member could jeopardize the productive unit adapted to the harsh limitation of an ecological niche with dire consequences for the survival of all.
The invariable modes of killing or to execute have been a popular field for creativity and development throughout history .The technically improved methods introduced by the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the stratified scattered city states in Asia and the Middle East were welcomed and embraced by Europe and implemented enthusiastically by the colonialist and the infamous Inquisition during the territorial conquests during three decades until the Age of Reason resting on the innovative philosophies of the Renaissance thought with roots in the multicultural Andaluz Renacimiento grew strong in the 18th century slowed down some of the most appalling and horrifying execution brutalities, at least temporarily.
From history, we know, however, that the cruelty of genocide, preceeded by extreme measures of torture, acts of terrorism and maltreatment of an incomprehensible variety of methods, were present in all major conflicts, be it domestic means to put a stop to upheavals or the efforts to exterminate an ethnic group (the Armenians, inter alia) and prospered and still is common from Rwanda to Tjetjenia or to peace promoting UN missions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The state terrorism in the former Sovjet Empire and it´s allies or the Monroe Doctrine implemented warfare in Vietnam, the Pol Pots andthe increasing numbers of civil wars on a global scale differ only in the technologically development of advanced forms of retribution resting on the Lex Talionis concept made legal by calling upon God or an ideological creed and greed.
The contemporary ”stoning” in the West, possibly the oldest way of killing another human by public consent, does not mean throwing stones physically per se, but mobbing and persecution of the deviant, be it physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually. The death penalty is still in use in the USA, Russia, China, Iran and some 80 other nations, state sanctioned murder resting on the Talionis concept.
The media promoted outing of celebrities or decision makers may virtually destroy people who differ from social and political normative mindsets, although, paradoxically, people are being encouraged to develop self sufficiency, uniqueness and strive to satisfy the personal aspirations. The ongoing conflict between self empowerment and hybris is a Gordian knot of implicit social conflicts.
Stoning as punishment is older than most current domineering religions and, if closely scrutinized, seen paradoxically as an abomination by Divinity in spite of the frequent use in religious contexts. We get a notion from the Ten Commandments which stipulates ”Thou shalt not kill”, the teachings of Jesus from Nazareth, ”Cast the First Stone” and the numerous Asian peace oriented religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and the African Lemba and many more, to the secular conventions and agreements on the Human Rights which should suffice to abolish death penalty in any form. We are appalled by a singular incident in Somalia some years ago, when a thirteen year old girl witnessed a rape and was stoned to death by the Somali police force, resting allegedly on the Sharía Law, because the child had the audacity to tell publically what she had witnessed, an expansion of Divine retribution gradually created by theocrats by adding convenient amendments and adjustments (Idjnads) to the Qúran. Similar amendments and dogma are common in Christianity and Judaism and have little, if anything, to do wih the sources at all. Secular control and distribution of power and assets are sanctified and imposed on the followers as the will of God, Allah or Jahve.
The modification of the superstructure (divine order) of the developing cultures have had a deceptive impact on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Church fathers of Christendom decided what parts of the remnants of holy scriptures best served their purposes and gospels were promptly excluded, thus altering the authentic teachings of the original oral tradition and messages.
During the centuries amendments in forms of endless restrictions and dictates to impose obedience and submission with religious overtones in all secular matters were constructed, simply because developing social patterns and forms of interaction could not be found in the arcaic documents. The pattern of development of two of the dominant religions, Christianity and Islam, are astonishingly similar in their adaptation to secular power, customs and tradition be it executed by theocrats or royal houses. The flexibility of embracing pagan cosmology and rituals may have been more evident in colonialist Christendom whereas present day Islam has a vivid tradition of reflecting the society in which it is expanding and deals pragmatically with anything from using the Internet to dress codes.
Burning women, especially intellectually gifted ones, at the stake, a plague which spread epidemically over the Old World principally during the 17th century as a result of the contagious Jesuit Inquisition exterminating everything that did not match the dogma with spin offs to the various Creeds of Christendom, is yet another proof of religion going overboard and perverting the core of the initial messages or gospels. I strongly believe that we can rest assured that the Nazarene never expected that He would be called upon while colonialist staged genocide in all parts of the world in His name.
Buddha sayings give no indications of permission to turn out the light of life, nor do any of the many facetted syncretist creeds of the Middle East and Asia Minor. There is no obvious connection between religion and the secular modes of reproduction, which makes it confusing. By using the dialectic method to understand the dynamics of the development of austere and severe misuse of power in the name of God may, to a degree, make ”sense”, seen from a orthodox rationalistic perspective but Buddhism, inter alia, proves otherwise.
A theocracy, such as contemporary Iran, is a sociopoliticsl construction beyond our comprehension but was not uncommon in the Old World until the 18th century when secularism gained acceptance.The idea of Atheism, debated in Classic Greece and elsewhere was openly discussed, even if the result could be a social stigma. The obvious strive to control people mentally, politically and socially by calling upon God was a common reality in Europe and the predominant normative mindset of the early Middle Ages enforced by the omnipotent Papists and other Christian churches, and neither avoided by icy reformers such as Calvin. To legalize killing by referring to the Divine Being still justifies coldblooded murder whether it is in an electric chair in the US, Russia and China or a hanging in Iran, Somalia or the Sudan. Death Penalty still exists, although God has been substituted by the Government and the State in many parts and is obviously tolerated by the normative mindset of ordinary people who´d never consider themselves accomplices to murder, although we all are, since it still exists. We are the people and the state. We cannot wash our hands even if it is comfortable.
Structural violence as repeatedly seen where domestic laws allow authorities to use deadly violence against their own countrymen are constantly on the agenda. Killing Syrian rebels running amok in the streets of Damascus will have no punitive repercussions. The measures taken by states and nations when questioned or openly defied are regarded as national affairs unless a third nation´s interest is at stake. If so,the third part and it´s allies benevolently may arrive with well armed troops to ”pacify” and get involved for ”noble” reasons in the general turmoil. Thus civilians, whether rebellious or not, will die, be it in the Muslim regions of Thailand, while we are sunbathing on the endeless beaches, or in Haiti when hunger generated riots occur. It has become so commonplace, in spite of Humanitarian Laws and the formalized Protection of civilians, that we raise no eyebrows at murder even on a massive scale.
Nobody can be indicted unless a scapegoat have been found to appease the opponents once the turbulence has slowed down. We regard it as a phenomenon of poverty and oppression and rest assured that this will never take place in our part of the world. Twenty years have gone by since Yugoslavia was torn to pieces. Inside the federative Russia, between her hostile neighbors and the mediaval Belarus, killings of civilians take place on a daily basis. We do not intervene. We are installing cameras in every possible corner or doorway in our private war against terrorism or everyday crime. The fundamentalists are acting on a Holy Mission (Jihad: holy war is said to be a misinterpretation)) and so are we, but without God on our side since He was expelled from Reason and Ratio, at least in Scandinavia and Finland, several centuries ago.
The right to execute a human being, no matter the reason, with religious references, be it Sharia or Lex Talionis or unconsciously the inspirational source of Post Modern legislation, shows that religion is one thing and God something else. When we attack the brutal stoning of alleged criminals in Somalia or Iran, but allow the steps to the electric chair or the lethal injection as a means of implementing the Capital Punishment in China, the USA and Russia, it is a matter of imagined sophistication. The result is the same whether executed in the public or behind bars. Dead by murder..
I can think of no possible excuse for taking somebody elses life, a dilemma that has become apparent and a matter for discussion in Scandinavia for the first time since the post war time of Quisling because of the the Norwegian butcher Breivik.. Murder is murder no matter what you may call it.
People get what they deserve? Too many mistakes are made. Contemporary DNA techniques have freed numerous victims who have had to walk down the death road. How does the open democratic society defend itself from callous criminality and organized violence? I don´t know.
This has to be the core of discussion in an era when aggressive fundamentalism and organized crime are becoming present to a scaring degree in everyday life on a global scale. Democracy, in the semantic understanding of the word, has only existed during a century in Greece and there were never so many civil wars going on simultaneouslyas in this particular period, before or after. How does democracy protect itself ? Guantanamo ?V ladimir Central Prison ?
The anonymous density in mega cities and the constant urbanization may create a chronic environment of concious or subconcious fear, threat, dispersed social networks, having to face thousands of unfamiliar faces on a daily basis, escapism and socioemotional networking in cyber worlds and keep us indoors and at home. The amount of stress hormones and the risk of an adrenalin generated attacks is sixty times higher in urban conglomerates compared to a rural context, possibly because of a constantly alerted stress level we do not even acknowledge.
When you hardly know the people on your street corner or in your building, how can you possibly take an interest in a thirteen year old girl murdered by the authorities in Somalia? Recent research seem to indicate with a massive consensus that we, as a species, are not disposed to be confronted with endless mount of strangers that have become commonplace to us. Unconsciouscly we continously produce adrenaline and cortisole as if faced with a perpetual threat. Hens crowded in narrow cages on enormous farms start to attack each others. To kill is not something resting safely in our reptile memory or held in check by UN Resolutions or Conventions. We all have the potential.
As for now we let others do the dirty work for us.
We follow the example of Pilatus.
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