What Has Judiciary Got to Do with Obituary, Mortuary and Sanctuary?

It is now becoming very obvious that one does not need the services of an actuary – that is, someone “whose profession it is to calculate for insurance companies the risks and premiums for life, fire, and other insurances”, to know that we are definitely going through the toughest and scariest of times yet!

If obituary is the “an account [or announcement] of a deceased person; [or] a notice of the death of a person, accompanied by a biographical sketch”, it can only mean that such a deceased person’s body will end up in “a place for the dead” or “a place for the reception of the dead before burial” otherwise known as “a morgue” or mortuary.

Every day we read obituary of those who died prematurely, and most of their bodies ended up being deposited in mortuaries. But what is a sanctuary and how do all these connect together with judiciary?

While a sanctuary remains “a house consecrated to the worship of God; a place where divine service is performed; a church, temple, or other places [mosque] of worship”, it is also “a sacred and inviolable asylum; [and] a place of refuge and protection”.

People run into homes, towns, cities, and countries considered safe enough to protect the vulnerable, the targeted, the hated, the demonized, and the weak. Canada continues to be a sanctuary for a lot of citizens of many other countries that flee to escape political, religious, economic, emotional, intellectual, cultural, and gender-based annihilation, among many others.

What makes Canada a sanctuary?

The people are tolerant and accepting.

The people are kind and compassionate.

The people are courageous and willing to be vulnerable.

The people are open-minded and less judgmental than most people groups around the world.

The people care.

The people share.

The people love.

Yes, Canadians are so warm-hearted to others, no matter one’s background. This is not common.

So what about judiciary? Defined as “the system of courts of justice in a country”, it is the system that holds everything together. It is fair. The system is neutral. It makes objectivity its watchword. It protects the minority and the vulnerable.

It stands for equity. It guarantees justice. It creates and promotes a just society. It checks the excesses of other arms of government, particularly the executive. It interprets the constitution in a way that the legal, socio-economic, and political ways of life are guarded and guided logically and morally.

The judiciary establishes, defends, and promotes the moral compass of the soul of the corporate entity. It strikes fear into the heart of terrorists and law-breakers, and it brings joy into the heart of the defenseless.

With a strong judiciary, the vulnerable and the weak can go to bed with their two eyes closed. It is an arm of government that empowers various institutions of government to function according to the roles and responsibilities spelt out in the letters of the constitution.

The flip side of a strong judiciary is a people who fear the law and therefore follow the rule of law. A strong judiciary produces a populace that will move their disagreement to a court of law rather resolving such via any jungle justice. A robust justice system guarantees an ethically-driven police. An ethically-driven policing catalyzes a highly versatile intelligence gathering machine.

In most highly developed societies where the judiciary is ethically strong and strongly appreciated by the people, the polity cannot be heated by bone heads. In any society where the rule of law rules, leaders cannot encourage violence, issue threats, misuse power, or organize state terror.

A worthy society guides the utterances and actions of extremists in that society through a strong judiciary. A strong judiciary creates a level playing field for everyone. A robust judiciary stops executive or legislative, corporate, religious, political, economic or administrative lawlessness.

It keeps the society sanitized. It empowers a free and reliable media. It promotes transparency. It forces the strong and the weak to behave and co-habit peacefully. It trains people to collaborate and be tolerant of one another.

In essence, it recreates and turns a society of diverse human groups into a sanctuary where acceptance, understanding and community spirit thrive. It ensures zero tolerance for rhetoric that could cause deep divisions and unhealthy rivalry. It gives no room to demonization. It will just not condone religious, tribal, ethnic, and racial disharmony, not to talk of war. It will keep hate crimes out of its borders and will never entertain rhetoric-inspired violence.

But this trend is changing gradually, and this is scary! Divisive and highly flammable words are being uttered from coast to coast to coast today – for short-term political, economic, and religious gains. Some people are cutting their noses to spite their faces.

They now refer to their political opponents as “enemies”. Today, many human sanctuaries are fast becoming mortuaries. Many innocent babies were eliminated when the wombs they laid peacefully were brutally turned into their tombs by a few hateful people.

Many worshippers were mowed down in their homes as well as in their places of worship just because of some reckless statements made by some unguarded and insensitive individuals. And when the justice system is delaying or is impotent to protect the vulnerable and the poor, a state of anomie will set in. When the judiciary covers or protects cowardly acts of police officers who kill defenseless citizens, a state of chaos is born.

And when this happens, we begin to see a spate of organized killings, leading to plenty of obituaries, and numerous body bags ending up in mortuaries. An obituary is no good news, and the idea of a mortuary is usually not an ideal idea of a dinner table talk.

But it will be nice if we deliberately decide to speak up and call our leaders to eschew bitterness and avoid spewing toxic that could poison the atmosphere, confuse our culture of peace, and cause deep divisions within our racial or religious space.

It is time to use our dinner table talk to discuss tolerance and understanding, and call on the judiciary and not necessarily the actuary, to help protect the sanctity of the rule of law and ensure the strengthening of our sanctuaries in order to avoid premature obituaries; and so save us from unnecessary visit to the mortuary.

(❚ Dr. Sunday Akin Olukoju is a university tutor, a college advisor, a community newspaper correspondent, and the president of a community organization)

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