This post is long overdue! I know!
I’ve been wanting to post an update for some time now since starting the #spreadhummusnothate campaign back in September 2016 (you can read full post here) but just haven’t had a chance to sit down and have a real good think about and reflect on what has taken place since.
The campaign itself received a lot of traction and overall it was positively received by not just all of you, my followers, but the general public too. I was pleasantly surprised to see a write up by my local paper The St George & Sutherland Shire Leader, followed by a story via SBS and a number of other online news outlets.
I wasn’t expecting this kind of coverage to be honest. In fact, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. What I did know was I didn’t want this to be a political or religious movement. What I was hoping though was to connect people, not online, but in real world situations. We all see many things go viral online and forgotten after a day or two. So considering the constant negative rhetoric that seemed to be developing especially in the social media sphere, I really didn’t feel that a solely online campaign would be beneficial in our day to day lives. This needed to go offline. I wanted to encourage real human interaction between people from different walks of life. To build bridges, rather than burn them. To drown out some of that negative clatter. I wanted an acknowledgement, respect & celebration of our differences. I wanted people to admire the beauty of our diverse land (with respect for it’s Indigenous population) and appreciate how much we all have in common.
Above all, I wanted to take the powerful act of food sharing — something so ridiculously obvious & commonplace — to break down barriers & build friendships. I needed people, myself included, to take a step outside their comfort zone and ask questions, have conversations and learn more about ‘the other’ who may live next door, down the road or the next neighbourhood. Essentially I wanted to take it offline with the intention to bring people together who usually wouldn’t run in each others’ circles. People who wouldn’t usually sit and have a conversation. I wanted to give the average Australian an opportunity to have open, respectful dialogue so they can see that although we all have our differences, we can still get along and live in the one society, harmoniously.
I can’t say the whole process has been easy, especially because I was doing a lot of it on my own. It was hectic, overwhelming and exhausting at times. There came a point where I felt I was all ‘hummused’ out, but as my husband kept reminding me, this message shouldn’t have a deadline nor a time limit. Keeping this advice in mind & knowing the sharing of this message with as many people as possible was important, I felt that I needed to continue it. Even if it wasn’t on a daily or perhaps weekly basis, I still felt I needed to keep pushing through.
I’m very thankful I did because this campaign has allowed me to connect and chat with many people from my local firies, police officers (including NSWPD Multicultural liaison officers), Father Dave Smith and his congregation (Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill) and members of the Uniting Church Australia and Insights Magazine who invited me to a supportive and welcoming round table discussing on how ‘perfect love drives out fear’.
Other than the one or two absurd comments like, “she’s trying to ‘Islamifiy’ us with her hummus”, “I’ll eat your hummus if you eat my ham sandwich” and the odd troll here and there, the feedback was overwhelmingly supportive and has really given me hope. I really appreciate all of you who emailed, sent direct messages via my social pages, as well as liked, commented and shared this message. Thank you all so much!
There are a number of memorable moments and examples I can give to sum up the outcome of this campaign thus far, but I must mention is my first “#SpreadHummusNotHate Brunch” that I hosted, supported by my lovely and most generous Instagram family. I was certainly most nervous about this event, particularly because I was inviting people to my home that I had never met! As my eldest daughter wisely pointed out, “I’m pretty sure inviting random strangers that you’ve met online, to your home, IS NOT a smart move!” She stopped me in my tracks for a second and I explained that yes, that is something you should NEVER do (take note kiddies!). But I took a gamble, invited people wisely and thankfully none of them turned out to be psychopaths haha! Actually quite the opposite, I can say with confidence, they are all now people I can call friends for life! You can see a video clip of the event, put together by the lovely Rapt team, here.
It’s now been a few months (and a new year) since I went all #spreadhummusnothate and fell knee deep into making so many batches of hummus! A lot has happened socially and politically and still on many occasions I do feel that the hatred and Islamophobia amongst some will never be ‘trumped’. I have come to terms with the fact that this minority (and they are a minority) won’t ever change their opinion. My religion, my beliefs and especially (I have realised) my hijab (Islamic dress/headscarf) is something they just do not want to understand or accept. Or as Dr Susan Carland noted so succinctly in a recent article, “It doesn’t matter how moderate or modern or feminist or liberal or patriotic one is – if they are also proudly Muslim, they are a problem.”
Nonetheless, I still intend to keep spreading that hummus with the many people in our society who want to work together for that common cause. People who are aware that the only way we will learn & grow is not necessarily by assimilating into the one monoculture where we have the same beliefs, skin colour or dress, but by accepting & respecting the fact that it’s ok, desirable even, to have these differences.
So, now more than ever, I still feel the need to continue encouraging open dialogue. Dialogue that I believe is essential because only when we listen, exchange experiences and talk about the mundane over a cup of coffee (or bowl of hummus!) will we begin to see our minds broaden. We WILL be able to break down walls & recognise just how much we have in common.
Keep an eye out for a few exciting #SpreadHummusNotHate events coming around soon. Until then, don’t forget to keep sharing the love and the hummus!