I abandoned the section called “In English” for a long time soon after I had started it. The reason I decided to write a new post in English is a little song which YouTube reminded me of these days, and all the memories it has brought up from the depths of my mind, which in turn set off a chain reaction of thoughts.
It’s the song “A little bit of peace” (“Ein bisschen Frieden”), which won the Eurovision a long time ago in 1982. I was doing my military service that year. Military duty was obligatory in Bulgaria those days. The song fascinated us a lot and I will not deny that the pretty lady who had performed it definitely mattered in that case. But it was the lyrics that made the song much more than just a pleasant melody performed by a beautiful and clearly very talented girl. The song is a plea for at least a bit of peace. We were enlisted soldiers who didn’t wish to be sent to war, and who yearned to go “back to Civilization”, as we used to say, as soon as possible. Of course, most of us didn’t know German, but there was a guy from a German language school who had translated the lyrics for us.
Here I have to clarify that the Eurovision was not broadcast in most of the countries of the Eastern bloc, including Bulgaria. Sometimes the people in charge decided to allow the population to watch the winner, and obviously this song was politically correct and we were allowed to watch the clip and listen to it on the radio. Let me not forget to specify that Eurovision was treated as “bad”. Here in the Eastern bloc we had “Intervision”, an alternative to the Eurovision network which was “good”.
The exact reason why I am writing this post is actually an interview with Nicole, which YouTube generously provided me with after I’d liked the song. There she said she was thunderstruck because the Israeli jury awarded maximum points to her song. This speaks to the complexes that many Germans still undeservedly have. Undeservedly, not only because today’s people are not responsible for the actions of their ancestors. Contemporary events show how almost a whole nation could be blinded after long years of targeted propaganda. But let’s return to the past.
In my youth, there was almost a total information blackout. We knew about the West, and we knew that it was “bad”. These were inhumane regimes (according to what we were learning), their people misanthropic and greedy profiteers. Also, there were oppressed people who fought for freedom… This was the picture we had received from the propaganda. It was impossible to travel to countries in the west. Only some thoroughly investigated people were allowed to travel there, after serious briefings. They were carefully instructed what they should say to others when they came back.
My father had some friends from West Germany and I knew that they were good people, however, the propaganda did its job for my mind. Despite the fact that I knew not everything they had taught us was right, when I grasped the lyrics of some of the western songs, I was surprised that people there sing about the same things as us… They have the same dreams, same longings, same problems, same hopes… I don’t know what I had expected: of course, not that they were singing about how they will slay and hang everybody, but I probably expected some misanthropic topics, some commercially oriented ones, I don’t know. But it turned out that those people were just like us!
So, art was one of the few very narrow channels through which the truth about the real situation in the West penetrated the socialist bloc.
It’s easy for us to judge and blame others but before we start to blame anyone, we must look at ourselves first. I’m not religious, but I will remind you of Matthew’s verse 7:3-5 about the sawdust in your brother’s eye and the plank in your own eye.
Nowadays there are a lot of information streams, but many people still continue to trust malicious politicians, and are susceptible to all kinds of evil propaganda. Unfortunately, free access to any and all information is not enough for many people to be properly guided. Even today, when that terrible tragedy happened in Turkiye, I read many senseless comments in social media. And we continue to fight for a piece of land at a time when the Universe has just showed us how it can destroy huge parts of it completely, alongside with many of us.
Finally let me wish everyone:
“A little bit of peace, a little bit of sun
on this earth, we all live on.
A little bit of warmth, that’s what I wish for
A little bit of happiness, a little bit of love
And that people won’t cry so often”
If I paraphrase part of the lyrics of the song a bit:
“I know that my post won’t change many things
I am just an old man, who writes what he feels”
But I’ll continue more optimistically, with John Lennon’s words:
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”
This is a story that I can easily relate to. I was born in Hungary in 1952 and I remember well the competition between Eurovision and Intervision! Interestingly, in the turbulent times after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were commentators saying that the dramatic events will not result in any major change, only the number of countries participating in Eurovision will grow. Well, more than thirty years on, I can honestly say that a lot more has happened and not always for the better. But, Eurovision is still thriving and allowing us to dream about a time when the greatest rivalry is between songs and not armies.
you were a bit “privileged” in Hungary – it was one of the Eastern countries, where Eurovision was broadcasted. And not only it. We used to listen a lot to Hungarian rock bands and were a little envious of the Hungarians for their relative freedom 🙂 I still continue to listen to Omega, Locomotiv GT, Pyramid and other bands from that times.
Yes, more things was changed and not every one was for good, but we have freedom to choose, which is most important.