Reverend Gita delivered the following address at the Civic Centre.
Multi-faith Forum on April 2nd on the theme of “Faith Leaders and Social Media.”
As faith leaders we all believe in ‘Loving God and loving our neighbours, regardless of colour, faith, culture, gender. A few weeks ago, a minute of silence was held in our Sunday Service for the people of Christ Church, New Zealand; where 50 people had been massacred in the terror attack on two mosques. It was described as New Zealand’s darkest day and I remember the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying on Friday that ‘this was done to ‘US’ and indicated that they stood united in their grief. And across the globe faith leaders too, stood with them in prayer as we asked God to surround them all with His comfort. We continue to stand together and support each other after this and other hate crime incidents.
Today’s theme is ‘faith leaders and social media’. As those who love God and our neighbours, we are called to deal with big changes such as the onset of social media in so many forms and encourage their positive influence. Most people have some sort of social media account-it’s how we stay in touch with old friends, family afar, those with similar interests. It’s not just Facebook; it’s Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, to name a few. Social media is a constant in our lives and many spend hours perusing online persona. All media, including social media can be used positively. Among the many examples, a few years ago, one tweet highlighted the plight of a 6 year old girl walking 90 miles, only to die of dehydration. The tweet snowballed into millions being raised to alleviate famine in Somalia.
Of course, social media can be used for evil purposes. My Archdeacon is not alone in thinking that social media is the work of the devil. It puts ‘self’ on the throne, a form of idolatry, if you like. It can be dangerous for people of all faiths. This is the dark side of media, it promotes the ‘love of self.’
The world has changed, and the use of social media has become imperative.We all love God and our neighbours and as faith leaders we are to encourage its positive influence. We must embrace it and send our (world changing), positive messages in every way we can. May we be People who can use social media to speak life, truth, and encouragement, into everybody’s day.