Monday, 30 April 2018

Art Thou Rumour Mongering?

One day, I was on my way to the sacristy to vest for Mass. An old lady came running to me with a concerned look on her face. I was quite taken aback to see such an elderly lady running in this way, and I motioned her to slow down, lest she hurt herself or even trip and fall. She looked like she was in her late 70's and even then could sprint pretty fast.

The lady took a few deep breaths and said in an excited and exasperated tone: "Father aaa... I heard you are going to be transferred to another parish. Really ah?" I looked at the lady with amusement, saying: "Really? How come I didn't know about it?" The lady exclaimed with much consternation: "But I heard the news from so and so, and so and so heard from so and so, and so and so claims to have heard it from a reliable source. Is it true? Are you going away?" I responded: "Did so and so get the news from the Archbishop?" "I don't know wor..." came the reply. So I said: "Why not ask so and so to see me, and then we make a call to the Archbishop to verify. Want?" The lady, with an uncomfortable look on her face said, "Better not wor... afterwards he scold us for wasting his time. He so busy wan." I chuckled and said: "Next time, don't just believe everything you hear lah. If the news does not come from a reliable source, or through proper channels, with proper announcements made, don't just take other people's words for it." The lady looked sheepishly and said: “Ok lor." Then she went off her merry way.

While watching the lady scoot off, I prayed that she had learnt her lesson and not just believe everything she hears, and then start spreading such fake news or even lies. This incident reminded me of another incident where a parishioner called me on the handphone and his voice sounded quite distraught. I asked him what the matter was, and he exclaimed: "Oh dear! Oh dear! oh dear! I just got news that Fr. so and so has passed away." I smiled, and sighed, replying: "Don't worry... Fr. so and so is still very much alive. I am sitting next to his bed and he is still breathing and moving." The parishioner was stunned to hear such news, and he apologised quickly before terminating the call.

So what do these incidences tell us? It reminds us of the need to be vigilant and careful in discerning what we hear, and only share such news if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is true. May we watch our tongue and check our facts and sources thoroughly, so that what we share is true, lest we get caught embarrassing ourselves unnecessarily.

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