This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 360 – May 22 2004.  

 This weeks  was written by AWR's  English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.


For a rough translation in your own language click here: Translate now

Proverbs 18:24 (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.  

Now, 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 least votes.   And 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 again.   

So, next year, the Ukraine will be the gracious hosts having knocked up a total of 280 points with Ruslana and her song “Wild Dances.

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:  

Eccles. 4:9-10, 12 (NIV)  

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their work:

10If one falls down,

his friend can help him up.

But pity the man who falls

and has no one to help him up!

12Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


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