Thursday, December 22, 2005

LIVE 8 - More than songs in a park

For the last couple of nights I've been watching the BBC's review of Live 8. As I've watched I've felt great frustration and joy, and I've realised just how much that week in July meant to me. So if you don't mind I'm going to try and offload some of my thoughts in the next few minutes. Please bare with me.

2005 on a world level has been an incredibly eventful year, with a lot of incredibly painful catastrophes. It started with the Tsunami, then there have been hurricanes, earthquakes, famine, bombings and much more. And yet throughout this year there has been a continuing heartbeat for justice and good lead by the Make Poverty History campaign. And then for one day in July the world united to get the message home. Tony Blair said it himself that the best response to the London bombings was sealing the deals for Africa at the G8 summit.

The summer’s promises kept could mean:
290 million people freed from debt slavery
malaria deaths halved - that's over half a million people each year
9 million people who need them with AIDS treatment drugs by 2010
12 million orphans with proper support
every child with access to free primary education
Africa with $25 billion more aid every year

How can we be sure that a rock concert influenced these promises? I don't know. But why do we always need proof for everything? This isn't a Maths equation! Only in England did the Live8 organisers experience so much hassle from petty arguements. When the purpose for the concert was so important who really cares who's playing, or whether there was swearing in the afternoon, or whether they overran and people couldn't get the train home, or whether the BBC wishes to remain impartial? Surely, we only worry about this in England! Don't we??

A comment about Bob Geldof stands out for me from the programmes. It said that in every little petty argument and conversation Bob never lost sight of the big picture of why they were doing it. He was so stubborn and uncompromising in the face of the English saying, 'But what about damage to the grass?' He would not let it bring him down because the cause meant SO much to him. That for me, makes him an inspiration. If we don't dream big, very little will happen.
When the next generation looks back at Live8 in History textbooks they won't read about the squabbles and the scepticism, but they will being reading about whether the promises to change lives were kept.

For me, God was right at the heart of Live8 and the Make Poverty History campaign, whether the people involved knew it or not. Why? Because God is justice. How else do people organise 10 concerts around the world in less than 10 weeks without some divine intervention? In Russia the politicians asked whether Live8 wanted them to put some pressure on bands to get them to play! The bands were supposed to be putting pressure on the politicians.

Do songs in a park really make a difference? Not without the movement for action before and after the event. But in 2005 Live8 was just a part of a much larger thing that was happening. It was the part that caught the world's attention. 'Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry.'( Amos 5:23-24) Live8 HAD to be more than songs in the park and I think it was was.

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