On December 24, 2016, Christmas Eve, a woman was stripped naked and paraded throughout a village somewhere in Igbo land. Her picture was flashed all over social media, especially Facebook (where I saw it).
It was reported that she had stolen a live chicken (for her Christmas meal) and was caught. The chicken was hung on her back as she was paraded through the village's byways.
I do not know that she, in fact, stole the chicken hung on her back; that is not the issue; the real issue is what the villagers wanted to accomplish by parading her naked.
Apparently, the villagers wanted to shame an alleged criminal. Their goal is twofold; first, to punish her by shaming her and secondly to tell other people with similar nefarious intention of stealing that if they gave in to the temptation and stole that they, too, would be shamed.
In effect, the villagers were motivated by desire to deter criminality in their village. In traditional Igbo villages those who steal are shamed (I have witnessed the shaming of a man who stole a chicken; he was stripped naked, beaten senseless and paraded throughout the village); those who commit more serious crimes, such as killing someone, before the white man came to Igbo land, I am told that such persons were summarily killed by the villagers. Those who committed incest were told to leave the village and never to return to it, for they had committed sacrilege.
During the four hundred years of Trans-Atlantic Slavery (1500-1900), I am told that Igbos sold their criminals into slavery. This way they had no physical structures called jails and prisons: you did the crime and you were captured by the people, Oha; Oha judged your behavior criminal and sold you into slavery and you were shipped to the New World (America).
As I looked at the young woman paraded naked I wondered what she must be feeling. On the surface she seemed unbothered, stoic and walked straight, her chin out and took her punishment in stride. She looks like the criminal type and, as such, is not easily shamed. She appeared shameless.
The woman appears to have a criminal personality (aka antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy and psychopathy). Such persons have low to no social conscience; they steal or kill without qualms. Indeed, some of them enjoy harming other people; they are sadists. The young woman in the picture seemed the quintessential sociopath; I would imagine that it is folks like her who are running around Alaigbo kidnapping people, holding them hostage for monetary ransom and not giving a damn about their anti-social behaviors.
What seems like something is not always what it seems like; so, I really do not know if the woman is a criminal or not; I do not even know that she stole the chicken in question; her neighbors could have falsely accused her of wrong doing.
She is not really the motivation for this essay; the motivation is an inquiry as to whether shaming people do, in fact, deter criminal behavior.
The people involved in stripping the woman naked probably felt that they have shamed her, humiliated, disgraced and belittled her; in their minds they probably believed that they have reduced her to the status of non-human being. Moreover, they are sending a message to would be criminals that if they, too, were to steal they would be caught, shamed and humiliated.
EGO, PRIDE, SHAME, GUILT
To be shamed one must have an ego; a sense of separated self; to be shamed one must have a prideful ego.
If a person does not desire a prideful ego self you cannot shame him or her. That is, no- pride = no- shame!
This is especially so if a person does not desire a big ego, hence a big pride; you cannot shame a person who does not desire pride and sense of importance in other people's eyes.
There are people that are not prone to shame; generally, they are not prone to pride, either. Consider prostitutes.
If you are driving through certain streets in big city USA and stop by the red traffic light, sometimes you see scantily clad women knock at your car's window asking you if you want sex. For the fun of it, my mischievous self would ask: how much? They would say: forty dollars for straight fuck and sixty dollars for blow job and fuck.
And these women do their thing in broad day light where people see them. They, I think, have no shame and pride. In a way they are like mere animals; they need money to buy food and other things they need to survive on but shame is not part of their psychological structure.
Male criminals engage in criminal activities, such as sell drugs and hurt people without feeling remorse for their anti-social behaviors. They addict people to their drugs hence destroy their lives and do not feel bad about what they are doing; they steal, rob and even kill people and do not feel shame or pride or guilt or remorse.
If the paraded naked woman is the prototypal criminal and does not feel shame or pride what she would do is that after the villagers have paraded her naked and told her to leave their village she probably would go to a big city, say, Lagos.
In the urban center she is anonymous; nobody knows who she is. She would then use the umbrella of urban anonymity to do her anti-social thing, big time. She could initially engage in prostitution (and rob her johns) to make money with which she fed herself. From that petty crime she progresses to big time criminal behavior, such as stealing tons of money and or killing people.
You know what? She would succeed and make tons of smackaroos. If in doubt ask yourself what a Nigerian politician is?
A Nigerian politician is a big time thief, a psychopath; those people actually go into politics to go steal from the national treasury and take bribes.
If you have in mind bringing Nigerian criminal politicians to Nigerian courts and judges, a cynical Nigerian would ask you: are you kidding me? The Nigerian police and judges are even more vicious criminals than the highway robber. All you need to do is bride the Nigerian police or judge and you get away scot free; indeed, you, the victim will be lucky if the thieving judges do not send you to prison!
Given the high level of criminality found in many Nigerians, I must confess that I often wonder if Nigerians are human beings at all. Could it be that they are born criminals and we do not know it? I call Nigeria the empire of thieves.
The question that I ask is: does shaming people deter criminal behavior? My answer is that shaming will deter those with prideful egos, those who fear social shaming and humiliation. Such persons are already so therefore they are not going to engage in criminal behavior so you are not going to catch them and shame them.
Given what I know about Igbo Nigerians, some of them may turn the table around and try using shame to shame innocent persons. Igbo criminals, realizing that shaming is employed by society to control people, will actively try to shame those they know have not done anything wrong but those they want to humiliate.
A Nigerian scammer called Nebucadinazer Adiele (this, of course, is not his real name) comes to Nigerian Internet forums and deliberately tries to shame those he does not like. He will make up elaborate lies about you and write about them in his pompous English (he probably did not have more than elementary school education so must write in a grandiloquent manner to prove to his self and his fellow Igbo illiterates that he is educated), well, this scumbag will write elaborate lies about you with the goal of shaming you. The creep wants you to go away from the public. If you do not do as he wants you to do he sings another stanza, saying that you are shameless. In other words, he believes that you ought to be prone to shame so that he, a shameless criminal, uses that feeling to control you so as to continue stealing from Americans (he is a 419 scammer).
I am telling you, some Nigerians pervert everything they touch, including this shaming business.
In Sum, I submit that shaming people does not deter criminal activity in the criminally oriented but probably does so in the shame bound person; since the shame bound, the egoistic and proud, have already avoided criminal activity it is pointless trying to shame them.
FORGIVENESS AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
Should we forgive criminals? And if we do so would that not emboldened and keep them being criminals? Does forgiveness deter criminal activity? I have not seen a person that forgiveness of his past errors made him a better person. If you forgive, which is, overlook, murderers they would only conclude that you are a fool and keep on murdering people!
If you want to prevent Muslims from converting you to their nihilistic religion you have to cut off their heads before they cut off your own head or force you to accept the psychosis that they call religion.
If you forgive Muslim jihadist terrorists they probably would seize the opportunity to intimidate the entire world to embrace their violent religion of death. Forgiveness does not prevent criminal activities!
I am writing this essay on the evening of Christmas day and that necessarily makes me think about the chap, Jesus Christ, whose birthday folks are celebrating.
The main theme of the message given to the world by the Jewish carpenter called Joshua Ben Joseph, whom the Greeks called Jesus Christ, is love and forgiveness.
Jesus taught that God is love and that we are the sons of God and, as such, the sons of love. He says that our nature is love and that we ought to love each other and love our father, God.
In our world we do harm each other. So, what should loving persons do to those who harm them? He said that we should forgive those who harmed us.
The man walked his talk by forgiving those who crucified him: father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing. Jesus believed that the way to return to love is through forgiveness.
Let us review Jesus' basic teachings to show that forgiveness is his central theme. In the Sermon on the Mount he said that if a man slapped one of your cheeks that you should turn the other cheek to be slapped and should not fight with him; that is, you should be defenseless when attacked.
In a parable he said that a man was on his way to worship God and realized that a neighbor had wronged him and said that the man must first go home and forgive the wrong doer if he wants God to pay attention to his prayer and requests.
And how many times should we forgive the wrong doer? He said sixty nine times sixty nine times, meaning infinitely.
And they brought a woman caught in adultery to him and asked him what to do to her, stone her to death, as Mosaic and Sharia law requires them to do? He told them that we are all sinners and, as such, do not have the right to judge others as sinners. Let him who is not a sinner be the first to throw stones at sinners. We all live in glass houses and should not throw stones. He asked us to forgive the woman so that God would forgive our own sins.
In the only prayer, Our Lord's prayer, that he taught his disciplines he asked them to forgive their wrong doers if they want God to forgive them their own wrongs.
Simply put, Jesus taught forgiveness as the only path to returning to our true nature, love. Until you forgive you will not love; and when you forgive hence love you are back in love (love is the state of union; ego is the state of separation).
God is love; God and his heaven is love; only loving persons, hence forgiving persons come to God's presence, enter heaven.
FORGIVENESS ENDS OUR EGO SEPARATED EXISTENCE
To forgive the person who wronged you implies that in the past you had condemned him as evil. To forgive means that hitherto one had the assumption that people could and did do wrong to one; one assumed that people do, in fact, steal from one or even kill one.
The egos world is organized around the belief that people have the capacity to do evil and do do evil to one another hence the need to defend against their evil behaviors.
We set up governments to protect us (governments pass laws that protect us); we establish police, courts, judges and jails and prisons because we assume that people do commit crimes and want those agencies to protect us.
In our world, if you commit a crime you are arrested, tried in a court of law (by the Oha, the people) and jailed. You do the crime and you do the time in the big house is our ego jurisprudent philosophy.
If one did not condemn evildoers, and forgave them would one still be in a world organized around crime and punishment?
If I see you do bad things to me, say, steal from me or even kill me and I forgive you I would probably not live in this world for more than a day; this is because people are inherently evil and will kill you if you do not defend against their evil behaviors.
If forgiveness is practiced people would not exist in this world. If we overlooked evil doers they would kill us and then set upon each other and kill each other.
Radical forgiveness, in effect, would end the social world as we know it. If we overlook people's evil behaviors they would kill each other off.
Human beings would no longer exist in this world if the old boy's (Jesus) teaching of forgiveness is actually embraced and practiced.
No wonder that forgiveness is not practiced by those who claim to be Christians, certainly not by vengeful Muslims who cut off your head for merely desecrating Mohammed's name.
DOES JESUS WANT TO END HUMAN EXISTENCE ON EARTH?
So, does the old boy, Jesus, desire to end human beings existence in this world? Yes! That is the only logical conclusion one would reach from taking the old boy's teachings on forgiveness seriously.
Frederick Nietzsche was able to grasp this idea hence considered Jesus an imbecilic. If you take Jesus seriously you must conclude that he is nihilistic and wants to end human existence on earth.
Alternatively, he knows something that those of us in the ego do not know. He knows that there is another world, a world we return to the awareness of when we forgive this world hence die off.
Forgiveness first returns us to the world of light forms (gate of heaven) and from there we return to the formless world of God, heaven. This is probably what Jesus knew that most of us do not know.
In the meantime, those who want to live in this world of separated egos, egos with different interests, cannot forgive those who wronged them and expect to survive in this world.
The logic of our ego based world is that if you steal you are sent to prison; if you kill you are killed; this is the philosophy that maintains our ego separated world.
To forgive criminals is to transcend this world and go to other worlds (there are infinite universes including the universe of light forms and the formless universe that folks call heaven).
In this light, the woman paraded naked in an Igbo village is rightly punished (shamed and or sent to jail for stealing) if the people desire to live in this world of separated selves hence must protect themselves from criminals bent on harming them. Alternatively, if people want to die off and return to the world of light forms and, ultimately, to formless heaven they must forgive her and thus allow her, a criminal minded sociopath, to keep on stealing from them and in time kill them, as criminals killed Jesus.
These are the only two choices available to us in this world. The choice we make determines how we live in this world or even whether we shall be in this world or not.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
December 25, 2016