Congratulations to Sweden on a well-deserved win at the Eurovision Song Contest. Under the theme of Building Bridges, the presenters were keen to stress the unifying force of music in the face of political tensions. And it seems that this year most points were awarded to the best songs and artists, rather than the voters’ political allies.
But can sport, music and the arts be used to wield political influence? Potential loss of income through boycotts of international events may cause a stir; but if the fans buy their tickets, the absence of a few teams will make little difference to the host nation.
In contrast, music, sport and the arts have been shown to have a huge impact at personal levels. Volunteers played a significant part in the success of the London Olympics and Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games; cultural events running alongside the games helped break down barriers and unite people in local communities.
We expect politicians to perform the miracle of transforming society. But they are only human, like the rest of us. And they have little power to change the real heart of a nation. If we desire a better world, we must do our bit where we are.
Although the Old Testament prophets condemned Israel’s leaders for their harsh treatment of the poor, the Bible says little about popular protests. Instead, God focuses on the behaviour of ordinary people with the instructions: “Love God, love your neighbour, love your enemy.” Imagine the difference it would make if you and I lived like this every day!