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Unity and Disparity (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

This year’s Eurovision celebrated the connectivity of the world and not just that of Europe’s. Australia was invited to participate this year and they received quite a few votes, resulting in them securing fifth place with 196 points.

The winner of this year, a young man who had reportedly previously made anti-gay comments in a public venue but later apologized for the remarks, embraced last year’s winner and Europe’s symbol of the LGBT movement, Conchita Wurst.

This happening on the same day Ireland voted in favor of legalizing gay marriages is a symbolic gesture of changed times, of a Europe that in light of political groups hostile to Europe’s multiculturalism, is a united front when it comes to the majority of people who inhabit the continent.

This year’s contest also reminded us of the sadness that war and conflict bring to our lives, of the deep historical wounds that the Armenian genocide have left in the hearts of generations of Armenians; of the wound that the Great War inflicted upon France a century ago; and a melancholy song about the pain and horror war inflicts upon the hearts and souls of people who are forced to be in the middle of conflict they did not initiate.

All this made the 60th Eurovision Song Contest a moving event that celebrated the vulnerability and beauty of mankind’s diversity, the extraordinary feat of the LGBT community and the feminist movement with stronger presence than ever of members from both sides.

The mood was celebratory, with people celebrating a great shift in values and the coming of summer, the season of sun and joy, a season that should be eternal in our hearts.

However, this joyous feeling is not prevalent in Iceland at the moment. There is no building bridges between opponents and sides that disagree with one another. Instead, there are islands, isolated in the midst of a vast hostile sea.

As it stands, we are in a state of freefall, a fall that will end in a crash.

We are in a state of mass striking. We may not see the physical side effects for now but as soon as we get sick or need an official stamp on a contract or another agreement, we find ourselves in a difficult position.

Nurses and midwives are striking for better appreciation of their education and important role in society, airport workers for the role they play in helping us travel to and from Iceland, shop workers and sales staff who process our purchases, bus drivers who drive buses for public transport and tour operators, and office workers with all sorts of specialized education and experiences.

And that’s just the very surface of the iceberg.

Like in a game of dominos, there will be consequences. Will the unemployed get their benefits? Will anyone be able to purchase groceries? Will imported food be left to rot in storage? Will overcrowding become a problem for poultry and meat producers, as it already is? Will there be any way to travel in and out of the country? What is this mess going to do to Icelandic society as a whole? And what will Iceland’s reputation be in the international community with strikes breaking down the fundamentals in society?

The gap between the SA – Business Iceland (service organization for Icelandic businesses), The Icelandic Federation of Trade, union leaders and the government is as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Yesterday, Vísir reported that Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson having said that there will be no negotiating with the public sector, which include such nurses and other professionals in the medical profession, until SA and the Icelandic Federation of Trade groups have negotiated their terms with the private sector. He is also threatening to raise taxes in case salaries are raised to the top, and use the law to stop the public sector from striking further if necessary.

In my opinion, this is not the time to make an enemy of the public and unions. And that’s what he is doing by making these threats.

Like everyone else, I worry more with each day that passes.

Unity is not there, the will to find a solution, to come to mutual terms whether they involve a temporary solution or a long-term one that is reconcilable to all parties.

In my opinion, the solution is a temporary agreement that conditions all negotiating parties to negotiate reasonably, both economically and socially.

A united front, Eurovision-style, is what is needed to heal the disparity on all fronts.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir(at)gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.