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THE TEN ‘I’s THAT BREAK THE HOME (12)

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As October 1 draws near

MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. ArisukwuEFFECTS OF INTIMIDATION IN MARRIAGE

Married life with an abuser/intimidator is characterized by constant criticism over matters of small consequence, blames, false accusations, threats and malicious humour. According to the Psychologist Steven Stosny, Founder, Compassion Power in Washington D.C., “this behaviour is designed to make you feel unworthy, fearful, ashamed and mentally unstable”. The effects are numerous:

 

TENSION/FEAR: Any marriage relationship characterized by intimidation is filled with constant tension. Intimidation makes the victim fear his/her partner. Since the relationship in this case is one of master/servant, one party is always in charge, the other is like a personal aide. Many wives today simply dread their husbands, some husbands also fear their wives. They are not themselves because the husband/wife could become infuriated at the slightest provocation.  The man’s actions cannot be predicted and as a result the wife avoids him. She is always apprehensive, and some times gets scared at the arrival of the husband in the house. Discussions are not palatable, meals are not shared. The children are even more appreciated than the legitimate marriage companion. Such wife dares not appear in the presence of the husband’s visitors except on strict invitation from the husband oftentimes to serve kola and then disappear. She does not have her own visitors at all because that would mean invoking the wrath of the “Oga” in the house. Some wives are also always the first to entertain their visitors and often dominate discussions even when it shouldn’t concern them. They derive joy making their husbands play second fiddle.

 

INDISCIPLINE: The book of Proverbs says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, stupid are those who hate correction” (Prov. 12:1). The intimidator is always incorrigible and shuns correction. He lacks discipline. He is ruled by arrogance and only follows the instincts of his impulse. The intimidator feels he knows everything and acts without consultation or the contribution of his/her partner. And because the partner fears the intimidator, she is scared to make inputs even when there is a looming danger in the house. Ideas are not dissected together. Projects are not carried out together. Each person operates from his/her own convenience. The home is a bit chaotic.

 

PRETENCE: It is difficult for marriages built on intimidation to be real. The victim of intimidation is always pretentious. He/she does not open up fully to the partner while the partner does not include him/her in his/her projects. He/she only tries to please the intimidator. Oftentimes wives who are victims of intimidation in marriage find themselves telling lies, so also husbands. They resist saying what they do for fear of the consequences. They paint pictures that will make their man excited even for the wrong reasons. The emphasis here is to satisfy the partner even if that means cooking up stories. The relationship is characterized by pretence.

 

UNFAITHFULNESS: Every woman wants to be appreciated and for that reason would not want to be with a man who always frightens her. Most women who suffer intimidation in the hands of their husbands always look for a way out. The reason is that they have the feeling of being unloved. The consequences are dual in nature: First is that such a woman creates a lot of imaginations in her head. She imagines that she cannot appeal to her husband in so many ways. She can fall prey to any act of love and care from another man that tickles her fancy. The second is that such a woman also imagines that the husband derives his own satisfaction elsewhere since it becomes difficult for her to believe that the reason for abuse from the man is unfounded. The question is, “Why can’t I please my husband? What is it that he needs I don’t have?” On the part of the man, when he loses sight of the point of attraction in the wife and concentrates on scolding and harassing her, he himself can become a victim of sexual attraction outside of the marriage.

 

LOW ESTEEM: Any wife who undergoes intimidation in the hands of the husband can easily develop low esteem. This is because her suggestions are seen as inferior by the husband and often not accepted. Some times she feels she is in the house merely to cook and prepare domestic affairs. Even in the company of her fellow women such persons hide and shy away from taking up responsibilities because of the uncertainty of the husband’s reactions. There is no need accepting responsibility because the man of the house may not allow her to move out freely to accomplish such. She cannot open up either to her fellow women since that would mean washing her dirty linens in public. So the way out becomes to hide and possibly avoid any occasion that would expose her to being appointed to positions of service or leadership among her peers. Nothing also kills a man psychologically as when he is made to feel that he has nothing to offer. The resultant effect of intimidation is a feeling of low self esteem.

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Intimidation in marriage can result to domestic violence. For instance, in many domestic cases, husbands and wives who have been victims of years of mental torment at the hands of their domineering mates may shut down emotionally and begin to display aggression. This is as a result of accumulated tension which unfortunately explodes at the wrong and unexpected time. Domestic violence can easily be the consequence of inability to accept abuse and intimidation from one’s partner.

 

LOSS OF AFFECTION:  One of the signs of abuse in marriage is alienation of emotional affection. Once a person becomes a victim of intimidation in the hands of his/her spouse, he/she becomes disgusted about the relationship. A man cannot love a woman who continues to intimidate him, so also a woman cannot love a man who continuously abuses her. In some marriages the man feels he knows so much that he regards the wife as completely empty. He does not only disregard her contributions but consciously derides, flaws and denigrates her in public. Some men suffer humiliation in the hands of their wives especially when their powers to perform have waned. This power includes both financial ability as well as sexual prowess. While some women suffer intimidation from their husbands for certain superiority syndrome, some women intimidate their husbands for some unpronounced reasons. In any case however, intimidation leads to loss of marital affection.

 

LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN CHILDREN: Families with history of tension in the homes usually produce children with some form of complex. Psychologists have discovered that children from such background suffer  psychological and mental instability in their relationships with others. Owing to their unstable backgrounds most of them are always filled with suspicions and mistrust. Some manifest great elements of timidity and lack of self confidence. They feel threatened by the environment while some become highly incorrigible as a result of the conflict- driven environment they emanate from.

 

BREAK UP: The holy writ says, “No one is made secure by wickedness” (Prov. 12; 3). Most marriages that have broken up today are as a result of intimidation. This is because no man/woman would want to live in bonded slavery in the hands of another. Freedom is a natural gift to humanity, and invariably everyone wants to have his/her freedom. It becomes unthinkable when marriage is made a prison yard, when marriage becomes an avenue for exploitation. It becomes ridiculous when marriage becomes only a means for making a person realize his/her emptiness and irrelevance. Marriage which in its true sense should be an opportunity for filling a gap, a lack of one by his/her beloved partner unfortunately becomes a tool to ridicule and intimidate one’s husband/wife  This makes the marriage union suffer break ups.

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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