Eurovision returned last night after a one year COVID enforced hiatus. Normal service was well and truly resumed with outlandish costumes, cheesy lyrics and quirky voting. To cap it all, once again, the UK finished bottom with the ignominious “null points”. Then as usual, people took to social media to complain that everyone in Europe hated us and that this was all primarily down to Brexit.
There are a couple of problems with the “everyone hates us because of Brexit” line. The first is that this hasn’t been my experience of real life outside of a music competition. Furthermore, it is not as though we were up there as serious competitors prior to Brexit. Also, the poor results were from both the judges and the public vote, from EU countries and non EU countries.
So, I have a different theory. If anything has been counting against us within the competition it is that we’ve been finishing in the bottom few for years. Strictly speaking we should have been relegated out and forced to compete in the qualifiers but we stay in the grand final every year courtesy of being one of the main financial backers of the event. Coming in through the qualifiers helps a country build some traction with the public prior to the day. Instead we have been lazily turning up each year with something obviously written to specifically meet the perceived requirements of Eurovision thirty years ago.
Even still, I don’t think that our bottom place is about people hating us. Think about it. As you listened in last night, was your immediate reaction
“Wow, this is a great tune, a hit that I’ll be rushing to download on Spotify afterwards. It will be a great injustice if it does not win.”?
Or was your reaction a bit “meh”. I suspect the latter.
Furthermore, consider this. Do you really think that the good people of Europe settle down in front of their TVs every May plotting on how they can really stick it to the Brits. Or isn’t it a bit more likely that they switch on the TV to enjoy the costumes, tap their feet to the good tunes, cheer on their won national entry and laugh at the funny ones. It takes some effort and entry to hate another country.
It is rather egocentric of us to assume that the annual result is all about people singing us out for venom and hatred. We have confused hatred with indifference. We simply weren’t relevant. There were genuine competitors fighting for the crown and a vote for us was a wasted vote. It is far more likely that what you see is a mixture of people voting for entries that stand out and a bit of voting in blocks. Even that “block voting” isn’t so much about sinister politics but about cultural affinity.
The thing is that all to often we make the same mistake in life. We assume that decisions are made out of personal animosity towards us. Teachers see it in the classroom but I’ve seen it creep into other aspects of relationships and it can creep into the church too. At times we see it with the church too when we are quick to react to specific actions and judgements as though they were targeted persecution. We even saw people reacting to COVID restrictions as though Governments were deliberately persecuting us.
Jesus did warn us that the World would hate us because of him but a lot of the time, it doesn’t, it is simply indifferent to us. And that should maybe cause us to pause and ask why.