Monthly Archives: May 2015

The week before

Nervous excitement. Stomach doing somersaults. Sleepless nights.

This week I’m off on a 2-week adventure round Europe to see 5 Switchfoot shows, and visit friends and family on the way. And the adrenalin is kicking in already. Who needs caffeine?!

Fan love is possibly the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’m still struggling a bit to make sense of it. My family and friends think I’m crazy, and they’re probably right, but I can’t help it – who chooses love? Love is always strange in all its forms, unpredictable, undeserved, heightening every experience of the highs and lows to euphoria and pain. But fan love is stranger, maybe because of its rarity. It’s entirely normal to be a fan of someone or something in the normal sense, and we’re all fans of something. But I only know one other person personally who I recognise the symptoms of what I can only call ‘fan love’ in. In his case, it’s his football team. In my case, a musician. In both cases, it seems to manifest as an obsession a little like romantic love, causing us to go to extremes, moving us to tears, but crucially lacking the attraction element of romantic love! Maybe it doesn’t make sense. A team’s just a team, a band’s just a band. My head knows that, but my heart’s crazy, and I’m inspired.

I’ve been living with fan love maybe 10 years, but I fought hard against megafandom most of that time, only beginning to give in a few years ago. What I’m coming to realise is that every love requires relationship and effort, and fan love is not all that different, one sided as it at first seems. This is where it becomes profoundly unromantic! I’ve been a fan 15 years or so, a crazy fan for at least 10 of those, and yet have only seen Switchfoot play live once. I’ve bought their music, with varying degrees of promptness after each release, but they’ve had very little back from me to show for my admiration. The musician-fan relationship is fairly commercial in a way, but it doesn’t make it unimportant. I’m realising I want them to feel their work is appreciated and really valued, especially given I live on the other side of the world. I think being in a band myself has helped me realise how affirming it is to receive disproportionate support from fans! So now Switchfoot are again on my side of the Atlantic, and I’m taking the chance to give back, perhaps the way I should have done long ago, by seeing as many shows as I am able to. And with Jon Foreman releasing new solo music at the same time, I’ve again decided to just put up with the cost and buy it all on preorder this time, whilst annoying the whole world by telling everyone about it. Maybe he should pay me for being his personal marketing agent… 😉 It’s commercial, but I hope it gives back a little of the affirmation they are due from me, and I hope they feel the love.

Right now, I’m writing this as therapy, to overcome a little of the adrenalin and calm my nerves. I’m freaking out about my travel plans, about all the things that could go wrong, about not being able to speak more than a couple of words of German, about meeting the band… But I’ve also been channelling the feelings into creativity, making some fan art and doing some writing. And I’m also just genuinely excited!

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Political divisions

With the election approaching there’s so much blame, brokenness and back biting going on. I want to see us rise above our tribalism and stop drawing borders, putting up barriers and entrenching division, and set our eyes on the Kingdom of God, the bigger picture, building each other up beyond our families, our localities, our race, our country. We’re all ‘us’, but we’re tearing ourselves apart – we need to pull together.

Labels

Politics is divisive, and it always will be as none of us hold exactly the same views. But none of us are going to have it completely right either, no matter how much we believe our beliefs. We’re not God! I think we could get a lot further by putting down our labels for a moment, listening to each others’ views on particular issues and letting ourselves be challenged. They may not be right, but they might well have some good points we need to address in our own thinking, and perhaps a sensible conversation coming from the starting assumption that each has good intentions might bring us all iteratively closer to real solutions to our problems, rather than just letting a shouting match entrench us all into our separate, separating ideologies. The moments I’ve seen this happen in discussions recently have been really encouraging and genuinely fascinating!

Character attacks

I’ve seen politics descend into attacks on/ scaremongering about individual politicians. Politicians are just as human as we are just as human as they are. Some are better human beings than others, but none will ever be perfect. We could find dirt on even the person we most respect if we looked. We don’t need to look for it or advertise it if someone is being publicly despicable. Whoever gets voted in, they’ll turn out to be neither the devil nor the saviour of the world, and we’ll still be dealing with an imperfect human being who we don’t entirely agree with for the next five years. So vote with integrity based on what you believe is best, not just for a personality, and be prepared to campaign for your case for the next five years between elections too, which will mean engaging with them as people. Let the politicians just be who they are.

Blame

There’s a popular (tongue-in-cheek) meme going round at present, supposedly telling you, for the Right-wing parties, who to vote for based on who you blame for everything. It’s meant as an exaggeration I’m sure, but the reality is actually worse. I’ve had leaflets through from right across the political spectrum, and I’m seeing blame statements in pretty much all of them. Blame the government. Blame the bankers. Blame the previous government. Blame immigrants. Blame benefit cheats. Blame the rich. Etc. Why do we need to base our political decisions on blame? Of course if we’re going to tackle a problem we need to tackle its root causes as well as its symptoms, but blame is childish when we could be taking the more mature approach of looking at expert research on the evidence to identify the causes and solutions instead. Blame just sets us against one another, and alienates the very people we need on board with making things better.

Patriotism

And then we get the classic division coming up; ‘our’ country vs the rest of the world. Borders are artificial. Everyone is human, and none of us chose here we were born. No country exists in a vacuum, unaffected by or unaffecting others, and it wouldn’t be a good thing if that was ever achieved. We don’t need to set ourselves up against other countries to make our own successful. If we consider the world as a whole interconnected society and worked on making it fairer and more pleasant for everyone, regardless of their location, we’d all be a lot freer and a lot safer.

I’m praying a lot at present for this election and for politics in general, for an outbreak of border-crossing love and compassion, and an end to negative politics, divisiveness, scaremongering and scapegoating.