“Freedom of religion does not give you the right to physically or verbally assault people.” Jim C. Hines
I write today with feelings of melancholy and disappointment. I am realizing that writing is an emotional journey, especially when writing from a position of advocacy. Yesterday, I read the news and listened to Caleb Orosco describe his physical attack. I was ashamed of my fellow Belizeans to resort to such disgraceful behavior. A young man offends the moral conscience of “Christians” so much that he was attacked and brutalized unprovoked as he walked the streets. As I listen to him describe his attack, I heard a deflated, abused and bullied young man who is further victimized by a system that refuses to address his injustice. Later as I read the online news, I realized Caleb was once again bullied emotionally by the insensitive commenter’s celebrating his attack, questioning his integrity and advocating for harsher treatment. My God, who are we becoming in Belize?
I am even more disappointed with the failure of the Churches of Belize to strongly condemn these criminal acts; disappointed with the failure of the justice system to acknowledge it. For the most part, the churches and champions of Christ were silent on the issue, possibly enjoying the power they have to move people to such passions of hatred. Who else in history was treated with so much hatred, contempt and violence? Oh yes! Jesus, Jews, Blacks, Minorities, Martin Luther King, Mandela, Gandhi and countless, nameless and dead individuals who suffered at the hands of discriminatory, judgmental narcissistic individuals who would prefer to see a fellow human dead than accept diversity.
Growing up in Belize, I was one of those judgmental, ignorant people who believed that people who were gay should live with the consequences of their action. People choose to be gay, so why should I care? I stood with the majority, mainly because it was not an issue that affected me. How selfish my thoughts were and maybe a bit self-absorbed believing the world should be as I want it to be! However, as I journey through life and reflect, I realized how my views have changed since then. Living in America for the past decade has given me a whole new perspective of being a minority. It is easy to stand on a pedestal of judgment when we are comfortable in the majority, but a person’s true integrity is evident when he/she can decry the evil of the majority. I thank God for Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mandela and nameless others, who refused to back down from their positions; even though they were the minority positions of their time; they refused to succumb to threats, intimidation, violence and bullies! I am free today because those who came before me were intolerant of hatred, ignorance and discrimination.
It brings me to my next point. We are a society of bullies! ” Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others.” It can include name calling, intimidation, writing nasty letters, emails or blogs, exclusion, making people feel inferior, inadequate or uncomfortable, assaulting, and forcing them to do things they would not want to do. It involves an imbalance of power usually on grounds of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, standards of beauty or socio economic position. The abuse can be done overtly as in Orosco’s case or subtly. The list is not exhaustive. The “imbalance of power” may be social, economic, political, religious and/or physical power. The sad reality is that we have all been on the receiving end of a bully, but instead of saying no more, we actually perpetrate it on a weaker person. We compare our children; demoralize them; we talk behind our friends’ backs; we strive to do better than people just to look down on them; we interfere with people’s lives and livelihood; we beat our spouses and children; we find faults and constantly tease; and we spend a lot of time “hating” on each other.
One infamous historical figure visited the Caribbean to learn our social bullying tactics of “divide and conquer”, a mandated British policy during slavery. His name was Willie Lynch who inspired Jim Crow laws. The tradition of bullying has been ingrained in our society for centuries as a control mechanism and handed down through our families, peers, teachers, churches, political leaders, writers, spouses and we in turn bully our children, family, peers and anyone who would dare deviate from what is considered” normal”. The bully gets a sense of satisfaction and power in knowing that he/she can intimidate a person into submission. The rhetoric of some religious leaders telling people to hate, to be intolerant, quoting death and violence verses from the Bible is in fact bullying. Church leaders can get of sense of power and accomplishment taking on a minority unpopular position while ignoring unabated corruption, poverty, child abuse, spousal abuse and spiraling violent crimes. The bully cowers at a bigger bully.
As the fight for acceptance ensues in our courtroom and society, I call on all leaders to break the cycle of abuse and bullying. Encourage supporters to be civil and respectful. If God intended for all of us to be the same, he would have made us all the same. If you believe that God made us all in his image, then when you bully Caleb Orosco or any person in your life, you are bullying one of God’s creations. I refuse to be a victim or perpetrator of bullying anymore and I hope anyone reading this similarly commit to stop bullying and promote civility in our culture.
14 thoughts on “A Nation of Bullies by: Aria Lightfoot”
gay is a choice. why support them in their way of life that is contradicting to the normal way of life? to those that support it should not be trusted at all. I would not want to have you near my kids worse my pets!!! it shows that you support all that is opposite to the rightful way of life….its demonstrate that the day will come when you will get tired of having sex with your own and then you will later want laws and the community accept you have sex with your dog or horse in public……i say to you keep ur nasty ness to yourself and keep it in your bedroom……we don’t need to corrupt our kids……..
So that Is how you reason?? I can’t argue with ignorance. Kids are abused predominantly by the people who surround them. The news lately indicates pastors, some good ole righteous Christians and family members.
interesting article but I’m not sure it was Jim Crow who visited to study our “divide and conquer” tactics….I think it was Lynch!
You are correct G Michael. Willie Lynch used what he learned in the Caribbean and help influence Jim Crow laws..
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Aria, you are a big bully yourself it would seem. You are bullying people yourself under the cloak of civility and respect. You call your fellow Belizeans and Society as a whole a bunch of bullies while saying your trying to promote civility? It seems more like an attack article on everyone you hate and despise to me. What’s civil and respectful in your article. You attack all Belizeans, Christians and Churches. You disrespect God, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mandela and nameless others that their teachings have had no effect on Society under the guise that you are teaching respect and civility? Wow! I might as well as have perpetuated this violence on this young man myself and encouraged others to do so also. I just think you would be better off with a more positive message Aria to your readers. That we can do better. We are better than this and that there are people in this world that would never perpetuate this kind of physical violence on another human. Please stop your bullying of all the law-abiding God fearing people in the world. Please..
hmmmmmm….so having a strong opinion is now being a bully? I’m confused…calling Aria a bully is one thing but why do you think so?
Robert, I challenge your comprehension skills! Let me quote the section where the Church was mentioned : “I am even more disappointed with the failure of the Churches of Belize to strongly condemn these criminal acts”…When you have Christians openly celebrating an attack on a citizen, one went as far as call on the death of this young man and call God name…and the Church after spewing some serious ” smite them down dead” speech…I think there is a responsibility on the church to tone down this level of hate. Jesus NEVER spoke of killing or smiting people dead…Let me remind you: Jesus said “Turn the other cheek”, “love thy neighbour as you love yourself” ” Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Ghandhi called for a peaceful revolution and MLK said ” a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”…I am sorry you are hurt by my observations..but that is normally how the truth feels!
Aria, thanks for your article on the attack on Caleb and your feelings. In all honesty though, it’s a huge jump to conclusions to suggest that this was the Catholic Bishop who stoned Caleb with a pint bottle. Or that it was incited by ANYTHING that is happening with the Church. I trust you realize that this was George St.!!! George St.!!! And I will be the FIRST to state that some of the most terrible, vile, hateful “boom bye bye” singers (and listeners) who are SO STRONG against homosexuality, are actually such hypocrites because they are also some of the worst WOMANIZERS out there, spawning pikni like ants and not giving a damn about respect, honor, treating their wife (if they had one) respectfully, much less their children (if they KNEW they had them!!) respectfully. Their hatred against homosexuals is more “animal instinct” type reaction as they themselves have absolutely no discipline, respect (except for themselves), or any other positive qualities. George St. gang guys are known for the CRIMINAL ACTIVITY that happens there. And consistent with that was this CRIMINAL ACT. So we understand your feelings, Calebs feelings, etc. And we agree with the terrible feelings of violation. But to put the reactions of George St. as connected with the Church is quite misplaced blame or responsibility.
That is NOT what she said at all…comprehension is seriously an issue in Belize it appears because I keep having to explain erroneous interpretations…she didn’t say that the Catholic Bishop stoned Caleb with a pint bottle. Jesus Lord…quote it fi me?! Where did she say that???????? And yes. The Churches incited the violence so they are responsible for condemning such acts BUT not one of them did that.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
And all that ranting about George St is highly suggestive of your blaming the victim. It’s just like when a girl is raped and everyone says “she shouldn’t have worn a pretty dress, put on lipstick and danced at the club” UGH. He has a right to go anywhere and if he is harmed in a dangerous area because some gangbanger wanted to rob him? that is completely different from the HATE CRIME that actually occurred. These people attacked ONLY because he was gay so NO. I beg your pardon that it was because he was in a bad area and just because they act like animals as you say doesn’t mean that we as a society should dismiss it or let them get away with it.
LET’S STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND BEHAVE LIKE MEN AND WOMEN AND NOT COWARDS.
It was very emotional to see that news lastnight. I my self is terrified to live here in Belize as a gay guy. I want to do more but my fear wouln’t allow me to do it.
I am sorry you live in fear. I understand it as I lived it going to school in Dangriga. My uncle was very young so we grew up more like siblings. The teacher beat him with a paddle till he was black and blue and the kids used sling shots to shoot staples in his back. I held his hand as a five year old child and walked alongside, not turning around, not responding. It was terrifying. this happened every day as we walked to and from school till finally he was sent away to a boarding school in Florida.
if nothing else, we need to act within the confines of the law…that is we are not allowed to just assault people…it was hard to watch that interview last night.
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