“… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.” Moses
Joseph Sanchez is dead but who am I? Who am I must be the one universal question we have all asked ourselves while staring at the reflection in the mirror staring back at us, mimicking our moves and sending back signals to our brains. We have tacitly accepted the reflected image is actually who we see. Some scientist believe that we would not be able to recognize ourselves if we could actually see ourselves outside of a mirror or picture. We see a face staring back at us and many times we are left with more questions than answers. Am I pretty? Am I fat? Why is that flaw so prominent? Who am I?
Many of us depend on the mirror to help us project the image we consider acceptable or want to share with the world. Most of us would never leave the house without visiting the mirror for confirmation that we have portrayed the right image. We take care in what we wear to fit into certain cliques, or professional groups; we look to the mirror to determine our ratio of sexiness or decency; sometimes we want to ensure we are emulating our heroes by copying his or her dress, or hair or make up; we sometimes want to seem intimidating; regal; sometimes we want to look “fresh” or stand out; but most times we just want to fit in. The way we choose to dress many times gives a glimpse into who we want to be but not necessarily who we are. One thing for sure, we all inhibit some level of insecurity about the image staring back at us, maybe wishing we had the money, or DNA, or will power to change it. And while the world can see the actual physical manifestation we ourselves cannot see because we can only see it through a mirror or picture; the world is not privy to our feelings, or thoughts not projected in our physical appearance.
Joseph Sanchez was an 18 -year old gay teenager, barely legal and the same age as my son. He loved to dance in the Belize Carnivals and did very well in that element. He reportedly preferred to dress in skirts and dresses rather than pants…but think for a minute… so do Scottish men, many men in the Middle East, Africa and India. Here we have a teenager, terrorized by some members of Belize society and then executed. Joseph’s family told the media that he quit school because of numerous death threats and the constant hate he endured. He must have been assaulted on many occasions and decided not to report it. He may have thought his attackers were just another bullying incident he had endured many times. If being gay was a choice, who would choose to live under such constant threats, terror and judgment? Joseph was said to be mindful of where he went and who he affiliated with and yet he still was subjected to the brutality of a judgmental society gone berserk. Joseph was brutally murdered early Sunday morning January 12, 2014. A knife in his heart sealed his fate.
Growing up I was a tomboy. I loved playing sports. I personally hated dresses because it meant I could not run around and would have to sit properly or risk chastisement. I use to wear my brother’s t-shirts and shorts. I just cannot imagine that anyone would want to kill me, beat me up or terrorize me because of what I chose to wear. Joseph, a teenager barely into adulthood, digressed from what Belize’s machismo “God fearing” society thought was appropriate dress code and now you hearing the proponents begin to rationalize his murder. That is disturbing to me. For those who think that this young man was seeking special rights, then you are clueless about freedom and rights and you have no respect for it.
Freedom does not only encompass your happiness. Let me repeat. Freedom is NOT ONLY ABOUT YOU. Living in a free society means that you will be subjected to images, beliefs, opinions, people and lifestyles you don’t agree with; things and people you don’t like or support; but in such a society, the same freedom allows you to equally live your life as you see fit; offer controversial and opposing opinions and ideas; dress in a manner that expresses who you are; pray as your personal faith dictates; and be who you want to be, free from any fear or terror. Joseph was never afforded such freedom. The people who chose to rationalize Joseph’s murder are willing accomplices to his demise. Freedom is in serious peril when we are trapped in ideology.
Joseph Sanchez is today free from all the hate and anger. He is free from fear, he is free from judgment and he has left behind a society that has rationalized their own imprisonment. There is never, ever a rationalization to kill someone because you disagree or dislike who he or she is.
The Bible thumpers, who continue to quote death verses, consider that God gave Moses ten simple commandments to follow. Thou shalt not kill was one of the commandments. He did not say thou shalt not kill those I agree with or like. There was no caveat to the commandment. Thou shalt not kill was a commandment handed down by God himself. Yet the self appointed religious leaders and arbiters completely ignore a direct commandment of God and direct their followers to verses in the Bible interpreted by priests who themselves have blatantly ignored and rejected God’s commandment of thou shalt not kill and encouraged their followers to kill in the name of God.
I am completely disgusted with those people in our Belizean society who attempt to rationalize the murder of Joseph or the murder of anyone for that matter and especially those in the LGBT community. How dare you use God as a foundation for your personal hate? Joseph was just a kid. He was somebody’s child. He was a fellow citizen and human being and he deserved life and respect even when you disagreed with how he chose to express himself. We are on a slippery slope Belize when we rationalize murder of those we don’t like.
Martin Luther King Jr. said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. When you have lost your empathy for human life, when you rationalize bad behavior, when you have selective morality- don’t be surprised when injustice meets you next. We need to honor life and investigate death in such a manner to prove that we actually honor life. We live in a diverse world and only people who believe in acts of genocide, dictatorships and totalitarianism reject the idea of diversity.
You are now at peace Joseph…let those who revel in your death feel the wrath of their own conscience … God please help us find our moral compass because we are lost sheep!