Anti-rumor agents

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Is it a far stretch of the imagination to think that someone, somewhere is in distress because a rumor monger has spread outright lies and made up stories about that someone?

In July 2010, the City Council of Barcelona, Spain launched a project “to combat negative and unfounded rumors that have an adverse effect on living in diversity.”(ec.europa.eu) Barcelona works with different social actors and organizations and has introduced, trained and developed anti-rumor agents to aid in its campaign.

Proponents of the Barcelona Anti-Rumor Strategy realize that one of the greatest hindrances to living together in harmony and diversity is ignorance about “the other.” This ignorance of the other, whether they be migrants from another country or another province, “often turns to fear or mistrust and is expressed through rumors and false stereotypes”
(ajuntament.barcelona.cat).

If you have ever found yourself in a conversation rife with rumors, you will probably agree that one of the best ways to dispel gossip is by having first-hand information as to the falsehood of such claims or the veracity of the opposite.

When my son was in Year 7 here in Victoria, a classmate of his asked him, “How long was your boat ride to Australia?” I can picture my son’s rightly confused look to that question. He has never travelled by boat to any country. His international trips are mainly by airplane.

Ignorance about “the other” does perpetuate stereotypes, misconceptions and rumors.
When my son narrated this exchange to me, I could not help but think of how this ignorance or lack of knowledge could stubbornly persist even as most everyone has access to an exploding amount of information over the Internet. In hindsight, my son reckons his classmate’s query was a jab at him. A thinly disguised racist put-down.

As young as 13 years old, I remember learning the falsehood of the spineless excuse rumor mongers cling to, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Fire your freaking foot! Many times mean people can and do concoct the juiciest and filthiest of gossips out of thin air! They whip it up over a devious brew of jealousy, arrogance, hate and spite. It is tempting to follow their lead, especially if you are far from best friends with the intended target or victim.

However, if you stand your ground and refuse to fall sway to the temptation, the reward may eventually be understanding, harmony and, hopefully, even peace on both a micro and macro scale.

As individuals, how do we combat misinformation? How do we proclaim our truths? Perhaps we start by educating ourselves. We begin with our truths. To the question of whether we arrived by boat, we try not to reply in anger or from a place of hurt. We simply answer with the truth – we traveled by airplane from the Philippines to Australia. Simple little facts to start meaningful conversation about each other.

I just went online, by the way. I could not find a ship that sails from Manila to Sydney. I did find one from Sydney to Manila and takes all of 52 days with multi-city stops in Australia then to Manila, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Colombo, Dubai, Muscat, Suez Canal, well, you get the picture (cruisecritic.com.au). It is at least 15 times the price of an off-peak economy class return airfare from Sydney to Manila.

The deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2019 Philippine mid-term election has come and gone. Although campaigning does not officially begin until February 2019, you can be sure campaign teams are hard at work positioning their respective candidates for optimum voter visibility, name recognition and popularity.

Let’s be wise enough to decipher truth from rumor. That is always one of the tests to a citizenry striving to be informed and vote their conscience for the betterment of our nation.
Strive to be anti-rumor. Dignity and honor are always on the side of truth.

I humbly but confidently make a vow, right here, right now.

I am Lia and I am an anti-rumor agent. Join me. One person at a time, let’s stop gossip and rumors. You and I can truly make a positive difference. It all adds up in the end.

What are your thoughts?

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