Last week I saw a message posted on Facebook claiming that Muslim parents at a Maryborough School in Australia (unclear whether in Queensland or Victoria) had demanded that pork be removed from the schools’ menu along with a strident response from a council official. It was a hoax, originally perpetuated in Belgium, then re-phrased in various countries to reflect the local circumstances.
I saw people up in arms and indignant about this so-called demand, with no effort made to check whether it was true or not. I saw something similar a while back which claimed to have been written by the Prime Minister of Canada/Australian Prime Minster Rudd and Prime Minister Gillard. So easy to believe the worst of those of Islamic faith without bothering to check the truth.
These circulars are written by hateful people trying to stir discord and prejudice, which is disgraceful in itself. But just as sad is the fact that people rise to the bait and circulate these hoaxes without even bothering to check facts, because it appeals to their prejudices. Even worse, when it’s pointed out that these messages are hoaxes, too many people say it accords with their beliefs and won’t delete what are basically lies – just like the lies peddled every day by Trump in the United States.
At a time when all too many are trying to foment divisions between various sections of society, the reality is that together – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, people with different sexual choices, the poor, the marginalised, the disadvantaged, the middle classes – we are far more powerful than the forces which try to divide and rule.
This sort of hatred and division led to the horrors of the Third Reich, World War 2 and concentration camps. I believe that those of us with good faith, embracing love, compassion, tolerance and truth can do far better than the hate-mongers. We can speak truth and love, we can hear truth and love, we can live truth and love.