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(Message) "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family."
Words from the Wisdom of Solomon that struck me last Saturday night as, I
confess it, I found myself watching the Eurovision Song Contest.
For those of you lucky enough to have missed it, this is a yearly TV
extravaganza thought up in 1956 as a way of bringing Europe
together – Popular culture and “entente cordiale”.Back
then it was only seven countries and the first winner was Switzerland.Since then it has grown, with a scoreboard and complex voting
from each country.Thirty
years ago the show was at its climax when it launched the career of
Swedish pop-group, ABBA
with their song, Waterloo
– and today, not 7 countries, but 36.
one thing is clear about the Eurovision song contest.It has little to do with music.Music is there, certainly, written to formula and choreographed
in a manner to generate the greatest number of votes from each
country.To my, maybe old
fashioned mind, some of the best songs were the ones that got the
each country – all 36 – vote in a time consuming process awarding
anything from 0 to 12 points.The
one with the most points wins – and their country hosts next years
competition where we listen to some staggeringly awful music all over
So, next year, the Ukraine will be the gracious hosts having knocked up a
total of 280 points with Ruslana and her song “Wild
How did they get so many
points?You may well ask
– but listening to the slightly cynical British host, Terry
Wogan, you could hear him predicting the votes.Neighbours voted for neighbours -- and even for enemies who
were trying to build political alliances voted for each other.
For instance – Norway –
famous for its low scores over the years got it’s total of 3 points
from neighbouring Sweden (who, by the way, got 12 points in return).All the former Eastern Block Countries voted for each other.Greece and Cyprus gave each other 12 points and Ireland’s
only points were given it by the United Kingdom.
So what to make of it all?Musically, not much.ABBA
is among a select elite who have had their careers launched by
Eurovision.It’s a fun
event, but it doesn’t go much beyond that.But the idea of countries and neighbours sticking up for each
other comes through very strongly.And while I’m not sure that’s good for the contest, it is
probably a good principle in real life.The book of Proverbs talks a lot about sticking together with
friends.The security and
benefit that can come from such an action.
But it seems friendship
horizons need to broaden as well.I was tuned to a talk radio phone-in on Friday afternoon.It was about prejudice – It was supposed to be a half hour
discussion but things got so interesting that it went on for an hour
and a half.Issues of
race, religion, fashion, dress – women car drivers – the whole
gambit – were discussed – and the great interest in the discussion
was that quite a few honest people phoned up to say, “I’m not
prejudiced but I find myself . . . . “
Well – for instance.The english man who decided not to buy a car, even though it
looked good, because the shop was owned by Indians.No prejudices against Indians – HA! But he didn’t feel
secure buying a used car from them
Or the man who phoned in
saying how much he despised fat people – why do they have to look so
ugly – why don’t they take charge of their lives and slim – why
should they be allowed to become such a burden on the health care
system --- until the programme host challenged some of his prejudices,
and discovered that this same gentleman who despised fat people
because of their drain on the health service, was himself a chain
smoker – polluting the clean air around him – and almost
guaranteeing that he is going to cost the health service a lot from
HIS OWN smoking induced illnesses.
Sometimes what we least like
in others is the reflection we see of ourselves.Maybe that’s why we marry opposites, so we don’t have to
look at ourselves – but maybe that’s were it’s important to see
past the stereotypes and the prejudices – and develop some real warm
friendships in unexpected directions.
And that gives support for
life – as Solomon again puts it:
4:9-10, 12 (NIV)
are better than one,
they have a good return for their work:
one falls down,
friend can help him up.
pity the man who falls
has no one to help him up!
one may be overpowered,
can defend themselves.
cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
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