Opinion | By Buay Kapduel Buol
May 27, 2020 (Thessherald)–It has been exactly one and a half years since I stopped commenting on South Sudan’s political issues due to a number of reasons, but the persistent hate speech on social media platforms goes beyond description, forcing me to put a few facts across.
My message to South Sudanese on social media
Dear brothers and sisters,
I understand that the ongoing political instability in our country has had a serious negative impact on our lives, however in the interest of peace, let us try to put aside our differences and see the world from a different perspective.
We might have faced formidable challenges during the conflict, but on reflection, our unity is of the utmost importance. It is also essential to note that peace barely comes overnight – we must focus our collective efforts on ending political rivalries and hate speech on social media.
The ongoing pervasive misuse of social media is worrying. Since last week, social media users have been posting fake news updates, sharing forged documents and other related stuffs to confuse the public – this action goes against Facebook community standards and also politics does not work that way.
Importance of tolerance in promoting peace in society
The terms Tolerance is defined as one’s willingness to accept opinions or behavior even if one doesn’t agree with them.
Tolerance is important in all aspects of life, because it plays an important role in promoting peace and love in all units of society. We need to be tolerant; it is the key to establishing a peaceful society. Let’s change the way we think and act on social media if peace is to be realized.
The late Nelson Mandela once said:
“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”
We ought to refrain from finger-pointing or wishing death upon our two leaders, [President Salva Kiir and the First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar], we should be adding more fuel to the flames.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis affecting everyone around the world – and has nothing to do with the current situation in our country.
Moreover, since we come from a country of about 6.2 million people out of a population of over 13. 38 people are Christians, I’d like to give us important verses from the Bible that teach us how we should love our enemies.
In Romans 12:17-21, the Bible says:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I have seen people wishing Machar gone shortly after contracting the COVID-19 pandemic – the same scenario happened to President Kiir on Sunday May 25, 2020 until he was forced to address the nation against his will, trying to lay those rumors to rest. Aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot?
It’s also worth noting that this Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) is the last-ditch attempt – let’s not forget the suffering that we had gone through before its signing, by playing with another fire.
Take a look at other countries around us and observe their attitudes toward us.
Last month, while reading derogatory comments from citizens of our neighboring countries, I came across a Facebook post that says “ The COVID-19 has finally reached South Sudan, I hope they will use their deadly machine guns to shoot the virus because that’s the only thing they’re good at.”
Such a statement is an absolute double entendre, it implies that we have spent more resources procuring new firearms than improving our health system.
My message to Members of the Press
Dear colleagues, in today’s digital age, the outbreak of the coronavirus has led to disinformation and myths hampering efforts to control the spread of the pandemic.
As journalists, we need to adhere strictly to the principles of ethical journalism at all times. The general public depends on us for accurate information. As we discharge our duties, we should always remember that one bad apple can easily spoil an entire box of good apples.
May God bless you!
The author is a South Sudanese journalist and Managing Director of The South Sudan Herald. For more information, he can be reached via his email at firstname.lastname@example.org or +254791642278
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