For me, the Eurovision Song Contest has always been about family unity. As a child, the Eurovision was a big occasion in our house. Treats would be bought, we’d all be bathed and bundled into our pyjamas from an early hour and the whole family would gather around the TV to watch. Each family member would select their favourite to win, good-humoured fun would be poked at ‘novelty’ acts and old rivals, and of course we’d all cheer on our native country, Ireland.
Once the awarding of points began, tensions would mount in the living room. We’d cheer every time Ireland got a big score, ‘boo’ the ones who gave us little or no points and it would all build to a nail-biting climax as the leaders began to climb the board, edging away from the pack until finally, the winner was announced. Once the winning song had been performed, we’d all troop off to bed, sleepy but happy, having enjoyed a fun family night together.
Today, we all seem to have busier and busier lives. Even the kids spend their time rushing about from school to clubs to social events. When the family does come together, we may be in the same room, but the presence of mobile devices and social media means little is shared. This is why I’m bringing ‘Eurovision night’ back in my home. The kids will stay up, devices will be put away and we’ll spend the evening choosing our favourites and cheering the winner. Occasions like this are rare, so when they come along, grab the opportunity with both hands and use it.
On a Europe-wide level, the Eurovision still has the power to unite us as a family. The Eurovision Song Contest came into being in the 1950’s, when Europe was still reeling and fragmented by the effects of the Second World War. Not only was it a way to drive technological innovation by staging a Europe-wide TV broadcast for the first time ever, it was also a way to pull together the European ‘family’ through a mutual love of music.
Music has the power to transcend the boundaries of country, race, religion, wealth, social status, political allegiance and ethnicity. It is something that touches us on a deeply personal level, having the power to move us in the way little else can. No matter where you live, what country you’re from, how much you earn or what colour your skin is, music affects us all in the same way, and it’s this common ground that unites us.
When terrorists attacked the Bataclan Theatre in Paris recently, killing over 100 concert-goers, they struck at things that are precious to us; life and music. As a music-lover and frequent concert-attendee, this felt deeply personal. But it made me more determined than ever not to give in to the fear these terrorists aim to instil. Their mission is to divide and conquer, breeding suspicion, hatred and intolerance. If we give in to this, we will no longer be a united European family.
Along with the threat of terrorism, we are living in a time of austerity, financial instability, climate change and political change. This is why we need to hold on to those things that connect us on an essentially human level, those things that bring us together as a family. The Eurovision is part of that. So next year, as we gather in Stockholm for the 61st year, let’s all celebrate together, that which makes us united. While some say it’s become irrelevant, I would beg to differ. Right now, I think we need the Eurovision Song Contest more than ever.
Author : Jennifer Roche
Source : Eurovision Ireland