Blame It All on Madonna
The tendency to blame others for all miseries is a well known Bulgarian character trait. The bad things that happen to us are never our own fault, always somebody else's. Ill-meaning enemies, bad faith, spells and curse had been casting a shadow over Bulgaria and Bulgarians for centuries.
Thank God, we now have one more scapegoat for the tragedies that seem to follow us - MADONNA!
The Bulgarian Church, which had lost the respect not only of atheists, but of most believers, had not been known for its criticism. The local clergy never said a harsh word about the Communist regime during its 45 years of power; in more recent days they kept quiet about the scandals surrounding the so-called Triple Coalition. Well, maybe not... They uttered some outrage once. About Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code."
US pop diva Madonna, however, seems to have turned into the target of their hidden deep inside, and for ages, righteous anger. They voiced it even before her concert in Sofia with demands to cancel it over her disrespectful attitude towards the Christian faith and over the August 29 date, when the Orthodox Church marks the beheading of St. John the Baptist.
Then the tragedy happened. 15 Bulgarian tourists drowned in Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, just a week after the concert, when the 85-year-old tour boat "Ilinden" sunk in the waters on its way to the St. Naum monastery. All passengers were Bulgarian; 40 survived.
In the tragedy's aftermath, as usual, many tried to grab the spotlight. The Bulgarian Church, in the face of the Plovdiv Metropolitan, Nikolay, did not miss the perfect opportunity to shine either. During a mass for the departed, served at the Plovdiv Cathedral the day after the tragedy, and on a glorious for Bulgaria historic date, the Unification, he hinted God punished Bulgarians over many sins including celebrating and partying too much on August 29 instead of mourning St. John the Baptist. And just for everyone to make sure what he meant, he confirmed before the TV news channel RE:TV that he was, indeed, targeting Madonna.
Anyone, who has seen the faces of those who were in the group that went to Ohrid or read that they scraped BGN 150 for the trip, knows that those people did not attend the Madonna concert, and no concert at all for that matter. And what should the ones who went to see her, their families, friends and relatives, expect to happen to them after such finger pointing? What will be God's Wrath for them then?
Poor Madonna got blamed for many things: the Ohrid fatalities, bringing traffic in Sofia to a gridlock, destroying the pitch of the National "Vasil Levski" Stadium just before the crucial World Cup qualifier against Montenegro (good thing our football team won, otherwise, only God knows what Madonna would have been accused of...). And, yes, the tickets were too expensive - global financial crisis might be her fault as well...
Bulgaria's Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, has a better idea of the cause of the accident: "Poverty breeds tragedy," he said Monday. How very true! It is, however, also true, that accidents happen and will happen. More so in poor countries, but in some very powerful ones too. The very recent June accident in the Washington DC metro that killed 9 and injured 70 comes to mind. The cause - computer failure and obsolete breaks.
In most accidents, the likely causes seem to be attributed to human error and faulty equipment with poor countries, of course, being more prone to both.
Another unthinkable water tragedy, again in the US, occurred on March 6, 2004, at the time when I happened to be visiting Baltimore: during a sudden storm, the Lady D water taxi capsized in Baltimore's Inner Harbor with 25 on board. Five of them died. The investigation listed the following causes: the weather forecast radar understated the storm and the boat did not have the required stability to carry the load of passengers it took that day.
Five years later, the Maryland authorities gave a thorough account of what has been done: 1. The National Weather Service improved weather radar technology; 2. The Coast Guard now recommends lower limits for the number of people allowed on boats and requires testing passenger vessels for stability regularly instead of only upon launch.
So, better equipment and more control to eliminate killer trains, killer buses, killer boats, and National Days of Mourning - now that's a novel idea! Blame it on Madonna instead.
I am not a Madonna fan, have never been, and did not attend the concert. The truth of the matter is, however, that the event, on top of being a splendid show, was very well organized, just flawless. When I asked two friends of mine about their impressions, one very young, the other in his late fifties, from different educational backgrounds, social and financial status, what both told me, struck me: "For the first time I felt Bulgaria is no longer a poor, oriental country. We made it. We are in the West now. Communism is over!"
I am sure many in Bulgaria think that this is more fun and joy than what Bulgarians should be allowed to experience. But somehow I don't believe God will want to punish us for celebrating the end of Communism...
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