This weeks blog is brought to you by one of PeacePlayers monitoring and evaluating gurus, Laura Agnew!
300 million viewers tuning in to watch 26 finalists filling 3 hours with crazy staging, outstanding outfits and lots of enthusiasm can only mean one thing… the 2018 Eurovision final! YES, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’d been looking forward to it for weeks…
As much as Eurovision is a guilty pleasure for many people (I mean the music is good but it’s also just typically “Eurovision”, there’s no other way to put it), I also feel that both the audience and contestants at this year’s event displayed a few things that our own participants champion, and that I wish more people in Northern Ireland were able to apply to their everyday lives.
I hear you, “Eurovision and the community of NI? Sure the two are totally unrelated!”. But honestly, I think there are 3 key things from last Saturday night that, if people here were able to apply to themselves, would make a huge difference to creating a sustainable peace for NI.
Let me explain myself; here are the 3 things that I think the people of Eurovision so wonderfully displayed, as do our participants:
Even if you only caught a glimpse of the programme, you will surely have seen shots of the crowd. And if you did, you probably noticed the mix of flags and smiling faces. See, for the fans it didn’t matter what country the person standing next to them was from, or even if they spoke the same language. They all just danced the night away and enjoyed the performances together, arms around strangers’ shoulders and including everyone in the Eurovision fun.
The young people on our programme are champions of inclusivity and often do this without even thinking about it. It’s just natural for them. They accept everyone for who they are and so just enjoy the programmes and have a lot of fun! And if our young people can do it, why can’t others not do the same?
A stage invasion took the UK’s SuRie by surprise during her performance. Despite this, she stayed calm, picked herself up and continued to sing, followed by rapturous applause from the entire arena when she finished.
I think if we can instil this kind of resilience within our young people then they will be equipped to deal with anything that stands in the way of their path to peace. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of things that challenge this path to peace for our young people, but so many of them already feel equipped to be leaders within their spheres of influence, which is very encouraging and inspiring for us to see!
Last but by no means least, I think Eurovision is a perfect example of a celebration of diversity. Around 20,000 people all gathered in one arena, over 40 countries represented, 26 nations performing on stage with a variety of music and artists, and every person being respected for who they are and the differences they have. During her closing remarks, the winner (Netta, Israel) said, “thanks for choosing difference, thank you for celebrating diversity”. This is something our participants do all the time, and it comes so naturally to them. And if people from over 40 countries can come together and enjoy this night together, how can people from 1 community not do the same on a daily basis? Especially when our young people do it every week!
The tagline of this years’ Eurovision was “all aboard”. So I guess this could be a challenge to everyone – are you “all aboard” to create peace in Northern Ireland???