Last Saturday evening, in the USA, the three prime time TV channels broadcast a live concert that was organised by Lady Gaga. The broadcast was repeated at 10pm on Sunday here in France but had a running French commentary. So on Monday, I watched it on YouTube. I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about it but I can’t stop thinking about many of the doctors and nurses that were interviewed and the photos of empty streets around the world.
The concert was conceived to raise money for the World Health Organization. By the time of the concert, we were told to put our wallets away, that all the money had been collected. Fifty million dollars had been raised to feed people who couldn’t get food, to feed healthcare workers and provide much needed equipment. It was hosted by three late night comedians: Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. Recording artists played music from their homes and the famous name list was certainly the attraction that brought so many people to sit in front of their TVs. For me, no artist or group or comedian stood out as the prime entertainment. What stood out were the videos and photos of empty streets around the world. I saw a loving side of the US that had not been shown in any news media I’ve read: in windows were rainbows drawn by kids, families stood on the side of the road holding huge signs thanking workers who showed up at work everyday to keep the rest of us protected, fed and receiving mail, teachers came to homes and placed themselves six feet from their students and read to them or showed them problems to solve.
There were interviews with doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers from many countries, some having come out of retirement to help with the massive numbers of patients in overwhelmed hospitals. One nurse, when asked how we, the viewing audience, could help people like her, said “You can help us the most by staying at home. Please don’t give us any more patients.” Colbert interviewed a doctor and asked her if she had any words she’d like to say to us. She responded by saying “If you have a loved one who is sick and in hospital, know that they are not alone. We are with them, holding their hands and telling them that you love them.”
I got quite teary at the universal acts of love and care. It brought home to me more than anything else I have read or seen that what I am going through here in Paris is happening all over the world. This is a virus that is not sexist or racist or cares whether you are rich or poor. The virus is at war with everyone on earth no matter where we live. I also realized that I, sitting in my comfortable apartment with a cat to entertain me, plenty of food to eat, a computer to keep me connected to the world at large and a TV and books to help me escape, am privileged. I’m one of the lucky ones. We were shown photos of homeless people everywhere, some in shelters practically living on top of each other, where practicing social distancing would be a luxury.
As we watched the show, we were encourage to go to act.me if we wanted to help. Act.me took me to the website of Global Citizen. The first thing it asked was if I would pledge to stay at home in someone else’s honor.
So often, it is the entertainment people who are able to take this kind of education and requests for help to the big stage. They have the clout and they use it. I can’t think of the number of concerts for Aids, for Vietnam, for other crises over the years that I’ve watched and been inspired to do something more than what my brain had conjured up so far. In so many ways, my world has become so small right now even though I’m in contact with more people than I usually am. It was grace to have my world open up large and witness how the Coronavirus has affected everyone, everywhere.
The closing act of the concert was a joint effort of Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, the amazing Lang Lang and his piano, singing Prayer. The song was originally released as a duet between Bocelli and Dion in 1999. Each artist was singing or playing from their home but they were perfectly synchronised. It was glorious. I listened to it three times then looked up the words.
I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go. And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace To a place where we’ll be safe
The light you have I pray we’ll find your light will be in the heart and hold it in our hearts. to remember us that When stars go out each night, you are eternal star Nella mia preghiera Let this be our prayer quanta fede c’¨¨ when shadows fill our day How much faith there’s Let this be our prayer in my prayer when shadows fill our day Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace Give us faith so we’ll be safe
Sognamo un mondo senza pi¨´ violenzaun mondo di giustizia e di speranza Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino Simbolo di pace, di fraternit¨¤
We dream a world without violence a world of justice and faith. Everyone gives the hand to his neighbours Symbol of peace, of fraternity La forza che ci d¨ We ask that life be kind¨¨ il desiderio che and watch us from above ognuno trovi amor We hope each soul will find intorno e dentro s¨ another soul to love The force his gives us We ask that life be kind is wish that and watch us from above everyone finds love We hope each soul will find around and inside another soul to love Let this be our prayer Let this be our prayer, just like every child Need to find a place, guide us with your grace Give us faith so we’ll be safe Need to find a place, guide us with your grace Give us faith so we’ll be safe E la fede chehai acceso in noi, sento che ci salver
I have tried very hard to keep the words as a poem the way they were written but WordPress doesn’t seem to like it. So….. And if some of the lines don’t make sense, remember that it’s a duet–Bocelli singing in Italian and Dion in English.