The post you just read was written by me and posted to my Facebook in September of 2014. I was unsure about posting it at the time because I didn’t want it to be read as an apology and I didn’t want it to be read as though I was crying victim either. Neither were my intention. I just wanted my followers to understand what it was like to be judged and to be told how to feel or what to think about this incomprehensible war between Da’esh and the West.
I did end up posting it and to my surprise it quickly became one of my most popular posts that was shared over 300 times.
Fast forward to the present, and not a lot has changed. Still we can turn to any TV news channel, or radio or newspaper and all we seem to get bombarded with is killings, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks. So much ugliness, despair & death.
We’re all tired of it I’m sure. We all wish it would stop.
It’s really quite depressing and certainly quite scary at times. Will it happen here? How safe are we? How safe are my kids?
Often I get to the point where I feel I need to switch off. I just don’t want to know anymore!
Not only do I want to switch off from all the atrocities occurring around the world but also from the backlash because not only are we targets of this so-called ‘Islamic State’ but we are also targets of those who do not know Muslims nor understand Islam and in some cases do not want to understand. So what do you do?
I’m probably coming across as such a winger now. I’m so not a ‘woe is me’ kind of person. I know it’s so easy for me to say just switch off from it all. Me in my ‘first world’ home, in a developed western country where for the most part I can be disconnected from all of it and then ‘ignorance is bliss’ as they say.
Yeah, but who am I kidding? Today a Senator stood up in Parliament and said straight out to a whole group within the Australian community to “go back where you came from…” And from that, those who think this Senator is a God-send will go out in public and do the same. Just the other day I was told to ‘go back to my own country’ at my local shopping centre!
“Don’t let it get to you!” I say. But lately that’s been easier said than done. These comments are really beginning to sting. In thinking about it, I wondered why. Why do I let it get to me? A comment from someone, who knows nothing about me, where I come from or what I do or how I live my life! The reason, I acknowledged, my kids!
Why should I let it be and allow people to make my children, who were born in Australia to parents who were also born in Australia, feel as though they don’t belong!? Is that fair?
I read that Facebook post again now, two years later, and sadly it feels as though I could have written this today and those words would still ring true. But now, as my children are getting a little older and understanding more about what’s going on in the world around them, I feel even stronger about this topic. And feel an even stronger urge to speak up about it.
Which brings me to the reason behind this post. Over the years during my studies and my teaching years I’ve often discussed the concept of food as being more than just sustenance but a tool that (in many cultures) brings people together.
When families and friends come together, no matter what society or culture they are from, food (more often than not) is shared. Food has been known to work as an item that creates a bond to bring people together. I’m sure we’ve all heard the Oscar Wilde quote,“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” Although this sounds whimsical, I believe it can be adapted to people beyond relatives, strangers even. In this context, however, I’m not necessarily talking about forgiveness, but more so faith in the sharing of food as a way of strengthening the bond between people from different walks of life, with the hope of breaking down barriers.
Food could really be the answer. It seems so simple that something as mundane as food can break down barriers, and yet a bit naive to those who are easily inclined to be cynical. Like me, I can be the biggest cynic! But here me out. I’m trying desperately to be positive.
After these recent bouts of fear monger-ing from politicians to social commentators and tv personalities I began using the #spreadhummusnothate hashtag. I know this has been used before for campaigns around the globe but I thought it was just perfect and had a real ring to it!
I’ve decided to borrow it and not only use it online but use it literally! In that I’ll be ‘spreading hummus’ with random people I have contact with in my day to day life by gifting them with a serving of hummus and fresh bread. I’ll be doing this from this week onwards in the hope that it will pave the way for more conversation, understanding and new friendships.
It would be wonderful if you joined me too. It doesn’t have to be hummus. It could be a plate of anything from your own cultural background, sweet or savoury.
Go on and eat, talk, tell your neighbours, friends and family. Share your stories and reactions with me and others by tagging #spreadhummusnothate and commenting below. I would love to here them!
The important thing to remember, is over food we CAN ‘celebrate our differences and appreciate our similarities.’
Quick Hummus Recipe
3 cups canned chickpeas
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons tahini
1/3 – 2/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
- Drain chickpeas and peel off skin. (Peeling skin off chickpeas gives you a much smoother end result, but this is optional)
- Place salt and garlic into a mortar and pestle. Crush to form a paste.
- Place chickpeas with the garlic/salt paste into a food processor. Add remaining ingredients (including cumin if you wish, I love that spicy flavour).
- Process all ingredients until it all comes together. When it starts to resemble a paste, stop blending and scrape down sides. Do this a couple of times to make sure everything is mixed evenly.
- If the mixture looks too thick I usually add an extra tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. Or you can just add water, a little bit at a time until you get the thinner consistency you desire.
- Serve topped with a good drenching of olive oil. You can also top it with radish, pine nuts, parsley or a sprinkle of paprika. It’s yummiest when eaten with fresh Lebanese bread!
(Edit: The making & preferred taste of hummus can be very subjective. I know many who make it differently…more lemon, more garlic & even lots more tahini. This recipe here is how I like it. Feel free to use this as a guide & add or minus the amount of lemon juice or garlic to taste.)