BandAid30 … don’t call attention to yourself

Africa Stop EbolaIt is, of course, quite fashionable to be grumpy about the latest BandAid single. Until today I’ve sat fairly quietly and more or less kept my counsel.

There have been moments when it’s not been so easy: usually sparked by Bob Geldof waxing egotistical as though one act of music-making was going to deal with a medical crisis that others had willing given their lives to try to counteract.

The media nonsense around whether or not Adele has snubbed the project to remake a tired single was peurile. To be frank – or to be Bob – if he hadn’t managed to get One Direction involved the whole project would have bombed anyway.

Then, on Sunday night, when I was unfortunate enough to see some of the X-Factor results programme and Simon Cowell appeared to hint that people needed to appreciate how crucial their crew had been to the enterprise, I realised that the real reason for making the single was fading rapidly into the background … along with quite a few musical careers … but people’s egos were not disappearing with them.

For much of the day the words of an itinerant preacher from about 2,000 years ago have been rumbling around my head. Jesus was talking to a crowd in what we often call his Sermon on the Mount – a bit of the Gospel that activists and politicians reckon we should take seriously even if the faith bit is too much for them.

Fascinatingly, The Message version of The Bible headlines the section The World Is Not A Stage.

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater [sic], but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

How lovely today to pick up a link to a track from African musicians, who were all ignored in the making of Sir Bob’s mega-single. Africa Stop Ebola features Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Omou Sangare and others. I’ve never heard of any of them but so what. They produced a piece of music that’s richer, more authentic and, frankly, better than Feed the world.

Watch it here on YouTube (there is a subtitle option so you can get the translation). You can also buy the track on iTunes and all profits go to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors without Borders (MSF).

If you want to make a difference in the battle against Ebola, then remember what Jesus said: “When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively.”

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