This weekend will witness the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. It’s a gentle and sometimes humorous reminder that we are as a nation part of a much larger European and global community.
Arguments about our membership of the EU have featured in political debates over many years and will play a prominent part in the forthcoming elections. As a country we are nearing a decision about whether Scotland should become independent while maintaining some relationship with its neighbours.
In the worst moments of the Eurovision Song Contest, usually emphasised in the voting, disagreements and unrest between nations can be played out. One can almost guarantee that this year this will be the case between Russia and the Ukraine. The Eurovision Song Contest is at the end of the day just that, but in this particular case it reminds us of a very serious and dangerous situation between two countries that has the potential to embroil European nations in political positioning and even armed conflict.
Many of us this year will remember with great sadness and mark the centenary of World War One and the armed conflict between Great Britain and Germany, in which many people on both sides lost their lives. The Diocese of Sheffield, of which we are a part, is linked with Hattigen-Witten in Germany and I recently visited friends and colleagues. The Second World War came up in our conversations on a regular basis but what they said could have easily related to World War One.
I hadn’t previously registered how important the concept of reconciliation is for the German nation, probably because we see and understand the outcome of the war differently.
Whatever has driven individuals and nations apart there needs to be a way of moving from conflict to peace and reconciliation because none of us can live in isolation. The simply reality is that in a global world, that could never have been imagined by my grandparents, we are reliant on each other for trade, the economy and social well-being. We benefit enormously at a variety of levels from our global connections and relationships. The stronger they are the less likely we are to fall into conflict that endangers our world peace and our lives.
Even here in Doncaster we meet people who can tell horrendous stories of how they’ve been treated in oppressive regimes or who are parted from loved ones because of disputes and arguments. We may even experience it in our own families.
It’s our duty to ensure that with us, in the community of Doncaster, they find a place of peace and reconciliation where some of their troubles, however briefly, can be set aside and where lives of trust and harmony can be rebuilt.
None of us, individuals or countries, can exist in isolation. We are made to live in relationships with others and in those relationships help others find health and wholeness.
* Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster