Lest We Forget – Another Woman Killed by A Mob of Males
“..an official in the Ministry of Religious Affairs said the attack on Farkhunda might have been justified if she actually did what she was accused of.”
A young woman was stoned, beaten and set on fire in Kabul on the 19th of March. The vile mob that killed her claimed that she had desecrated the Koran by burning some of its pages, an accusation that seems to have not been verified and established when the killing was done.
The world that many are working to construct and nurture intends to protect the rights of people, in very large measure the lives of women and children.
Young men and not so young men often become a threat to women and children, they prey on the innocent and the vulnerable. The dissatisfactions of the males with their lives find ready release in the toll taken on women and children. This we know.
All religions are meant, perhaps, to inform, guide and protect the innocent, those who will not resort to physical force because they do not wish to tread that path. Such crimes are committed in the name of religion that every age wonders if it is a cause of the misery of the world with men in dresses at their helm.
Each nation, each culture has a claim to its own view of the good life and the ways to achieve it. Throughout the ages some people believe that there are universal truths, universal values that should be propagated and maintained. The tension between what is specific and what is general makes for the messy world that we live in. Each culture claiming for it the right to be the way it wants to be and does, as it would, while a strong current has developed especially after the brutal Second World War regarding universal rights and norms of conduct.
Once upon a time in some parts of the world stoning people to death for specific transgressions was an integral part of the process of justice. With it an eye for an eye, a life for a life, this was the order. Some nations have turned away from it and try to hold themselves from being that way, but some others remain attracted to it and maintain that principle. Holding back demands for vengeance and the call for blood has proved to be well beyond most if not all nations then and now.
In a world seemingly red in tooth and claw humans will behave as they would and have. But that does not mean we have to accept it as a way of being, accepting that violence and death dealing is but the way we are. We are not Lions!
What do we impose on ourselves? What do we agree to uphold, change if change were needed? The collective effort to tame our worst monsters might be yielding some good results. But it seems to require more than platitudes and this was always true. The verities are known and written and passed on from generation to generation. It is the inability to hold back what wells up and overwhelms us that confounds the effort.
Be it people dragged out of a jail and lynched, be it a young man walking along the side of the street confronted by law enforcement and ending shot more times that an army shoots at an enemy platoon, be it women preyed upon by men who are seemingly unable to win affection and assent for their advances, be it the treatment for those convicted of murder, be it a young man distressed by his life armed like a soldier shooting children sitting to learn, be it a distressed father who has lost his livelihood turning armed at former his workplace and shooting his colleagues, all nations have work to do to remedy their collective conduct.
Then who has the right to tell others what to do? All have the right and the responsibility to do so.
All major religions were at some point new paths, the pronouncements and acceptance of new ways of being. They were departures from ways that seemed brutal, violence ridden. The then new paths generated their own violence, conversions, and contestation with the old. What we now consider as secular continues to be informed by what we consider as the transcendental or sacred, if not to avoid but to reconstruct a new possibility.
Then what does each individual, family community and nation hold itself accountable for regarding good conduct? Wringing of hands is a regular custom after catastrophes and violent upheavals. It seems that no country has been able to maintain a non-violent creed through its conduct. The sacred is brought out for the defense of the indefensible. The holy book said so! If only books could speak! Then graveyards would empty and the long dead may rise in condemnation of those who continue to read the books wrong!
A universal right to live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is some ways off from being established. A categorical imperative of a golden rule may yet prove inadequate in the face of rejection of life, suicide bombers, deep atavistic agitation about what is our and what is of the infidel.
What will we do when leering males stone young women to death? What will we overcome when we deride those who do the stoning and condemn their ways? As if our ways are straight and right? Will it always be that some of our ways are right for us and some of them right for others as well. And which is which does not stay fixed. But will our example shine through and provide the assurance to others of what can be done and its merits?
We can only continue to try to make this a world where the number of tortured and suffering children and women and the meek and poor are less. And, as Camus said, if you don’t help who will?
In memory of a young women stoned, burnt and killed by those who could have helped her instead.
 GOLDSTEIN, JOSEPH and SHAKIB, AHMAD. March 20, 2015. A Day After a Killing, Afghans React in Horror, but Some Show Approval. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/21/world/asia/horror-over-womans-lynching-in-afghanistan-but-some-support-too.html