New Zealander’s have a way of banding together in times of strife. A recent example of this is the Christchurch attacks. On the flip side of this a nation uniting in strength can also unite in hatred it seems. I’m writing this in Bali and have seen it all over social media, I’m unsure if this has made the local news, but as is to be expected New Zealanders, users of social media, influencers, anyone who has a voice made their opinions known; me included.
Israel Folau expressed some pretty extreme religious views with almost 16,000 likes on Instagram and almost the same amount of comments. Needless to say, the vast majority of those comments were expressions of disgust and hate.
I admit, his expression and the way he views religion is confronting but when I saw the post it just doesn’t impact me the way that is has so many others in New Zealand and Australia. It’s laughable, it’s stupid and close minded and I also thought couldn’t he have picked a better picture or written the words out in a more visually appealing display? Jokes aside he messed up publicly. As he is a public figure, role model and sports person his reach is huge and unfortunately for him a lot of people saw it.
Instead of people taking his message with a grain of salt, because it isn’t worth much more, most were really put out by such a ridiculous message. Which leads me to think maybe New Zealand cannot handle freedom of speech or anyone having an opinion that deviates from a people pleasing or politically correct point of view.
I can sympathise with Israel having expressed some extreme views from time to time and them not being received well. Trying to tell people that I have atoms within me that once belonged to Cleopatra, that there are other life forms living a galaxy away from us or that I have a powerful mind that can attract what I will to myself, has received some hate.
However if we want to get technical the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 states that,
“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.”
I’d say the post falls under an opinion regardless of how extreme. Regardless of how righteous you feel for standing up on behalf of the New Zealand public and irrespective of how much you despise Israel’s position remember where you live and remember that everyone who lives here has the right to freedom of speech defined by the government, not defined by what you think is “right”.
Remember learning about the Iceberg Effect? Apply it to this situation and think about all the factors that could have attributed to such an extreme view.
- These could have been messages engrained within him since a young age. How hard would it be for you to start believing in Santa all over again or switch religions, or wipe an entire belief system. I’d say damn near impossible.
- Close-mindedness. Not everyone is open and willing to accept other ways of life. It’s clear that a lot of people are in the same boat with the hate they direct so ferociously toward someone with a different view.
Let’s not be naïve to think that this man is the only person in New Zealand to hold such a belief. I urge you to attend a church service (not all but believe me there are some that reflect the same views), to speak to someone from a few generations before us, or simply look at how many people actually liked the post. You may find that these environments will reflect the views of Israel hence why he felt so open and comfortable to express.
It’s easy to comment and lash out like the rest of the crowd. It takes a certain type of person to respond from a place of kindness. To think that this one man has the hate of an entire nation directed at him is a hard concept to grasp. Strip away his opinions, strip away the mass outrage, strip away all the other elements and factors and he’s just a man who is taking an absolute beating.
I urge people to be careful with responses and hatred. Just because one person expressed an extreme religious view does not mean you need to destroy them. There are forces around us that tend to take care of that and I’m sure he will have to deal with the consequences of his actions and you too will have to deal with the words you’ve expressed from a place of anger and hatred.