1,634 People were killed through capital punishment in countries across the globe in 2016, as against 1,032 in 2015. China was said to have carried out the greatest number of these killings, with Nigeria taking the front row in Africa.
Amnesty International recently published facts and figures on countries that carried out the death penalty in 2016. The international watch dog organ made stinking indictments on nations where many people were killed by their Governments because the victims committed crimes that are considered beyond pardon in those lands.
While many people know that there are always two ways of doing anything: The right way and the wrong, many do not believe that this principle of striving to do things the right way instead of the wrong can also be applied to our day to day living. By doing so, man is capable of managing natural occurrences, like death so that when they happen, they do not leave us disappointed and or unprepared.
For me in particular, and for those who see earthly life as a major assignment that must be carried out honourably, the way one ends up in life is a major preoccupation. So, to die not having lived; since that is what the death sentence means to some of us; or put simply to die prematurely for something trivial when one’s lofty mission of life has not been accomplished is the most unfortunate thing that can happen to a human being.
Though many people who are fatalistic tend to believe that in whatever way it comes, death is death, many others also believe that the right way to die is for one to lie on one’s dying bed and be able to look back and accept that one fought a good fight; that despite the disappointments and failures; that despite the aches and pains; one did not just coast along during that short time allotted to each one of us to share in this wonderful experience called mortal life.
The dismal report by Amnesty International indicated that some 1,634 human beings were killed through capital punishment in countries across the globe in 2016, as against 1,032 in 2015. China was said to have carried out the greatest number of these killings, with Nigeria taking the front row in Africa. But Nigeria also took the leading position among countries that showed clemency to those who were supposed to suffer the death penalty by exonerating 32 criminals on their death penalty list.
What is absurd is that while some crimes carry the capital punishment in some countries, the same acts are not only tolerated in other lands, but even viewed as the peoples’ way of life. This is particularly so in the case of drug related punishments. So much controversy still surrounds these crimes, since nations that produce stuffs like Indian hemp, cocaine and even heroine see these as their traditional produce that are part of their daily menu. They do not see why the international community should term their production and sale as criminal acts worthy of being punished by death.
Actually, the world is still struggling to see whether it can find an alternative way of earning a living for many Latin American natives whose livelihood is anchored on the production of what the modern world calls harmful drugs. Amnesty International states that excluding China, barely five nations in the world accounted for 87% of all deaths by capital punishment in 2016.
These are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan. As one can see, these are Moslem nations where in some of them, trivial crimes like premarital sex, adultery and even theft could lead to compulsory and unwarranted death of a full blooded human being. Even more agonizing is the way that the executions are carried out.
Usually, in full consciousness, and in many cases with no illness at all, the victim could be beheaded, hanged, shot with a gun or given a lethal injection and precious life is snuffed off the victim within the twinkle of an eye. Apart from Moslem countries, some nations inflict the death penalty on those who are guilty of taking the life of an innocent person. Here, the justification is that since the culprit had killed someone, his own life too should be taken from him.
The question that arises also is about those, who, out of desperation, decide to take their own lives. To me, those who commit suicide are people who lack the courage to face life squarely. Experience shows that little inconveniences, exertions, pain and even sickness are phenomena that make life worthwhile.
People who think that leisure, ease and a life where one has nothing to worry about or to struggle for is the good life are actually living in a dream world. The reality is that, if these little stresses are all taken away, and everything is assured, we find that life too becomes an endless bore. For people of courage, faith and hope, life remains a war and not a battle.
This means that you can lose some battles in life but the end result is what counts, winning the war. There is therefore no reason to throw in the towel too early, too soon by dying a careless death, be it through suicide or by capital punishment from the state apparatus.
Some also die leaving behind trails of regrettable memories of their greed; their emasculation of those they should have helped to lift up but whom they instead suppressed, marginalised, exploited and segregated against. Actually, for those who believe in eternal life, it were better you were not born than to come here and make a mess of everything; leaving no positive impact on mankind as your contribution to making the world a better place simply because of your having passed through mortal existence.
On the other hand, there are some countries that are campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty irrespective of the crime. Their argument is based on the fact that life is a sacrosanct gift from Almighty God alone and since no man can give life, no one has the right to take the life of another person. Considering the lofty mission of life to a creature that is made in the image of the Almighty, to die carelessly or to depart this world for an inconsequential cause could be a loss whose magnitude is inestimable.
Just as it is possible to control and avoid the catastrophe of an ignominious death, so too is it with other natural processes. There is a right way to grow old and there is a wrong way to do so. Many a time we stumble across people whose outward appearance does not reflect their chronological age and it appears as if that person is performing some magic that enables him to remain relatively younger.
Whereas, the contrast is a subtle message that aging, just like many other natural processes, can be controlled and made more dignifying if we do not throw everything to chance. Many people live a life being perpetually disconnected from their inner selves. They do not hear any warnings about how to manage their daily activities so that the body takes the right amount of stress that it can conveniently cope with; or the right diet, exercise and so on so that every body system can serve them for as long as it is humanly possible.
We therefore see many cases of premature aging that are due to destructive life styles, complacency in not taking the right action at the right time or because the victim never had the opportunity to educate himself enough so that knowledge could become his asset.
Premature death, however it comes is like abandoning half way an assignment that we came here to undertake but failed. Such an end can therefore never be gratifying and or consoling. Really, it is granted to every human to live a dignified and rewarding life both here and in the hereafter. But it requires us to approach life on a daily basis with the conviction that, everything being equal, we can manage mortal existence in the right way so that we die feeling fulfilled.