Column: Caught in a pro-Bono slipstream
I love U2. I really do. Ask my boyfriend to tell the story of how I got up early and stayed online for hours at Ticketmaster’s Web site to ensure floor tickets for their Elevation tour. I love the band because they’re great performers with a cause. However, their causes are not performances; they are realities to be taken seriously.
I got to thinking about U2, and specifically Bono, this weekend because ABC Family aired U2’s concert in Boston. With legions of fans cheering him on, it just made sense why Bono would be the one who can help the world’s developing nations gain some political, medical and economic footing.
As the front man one of the world’s most popular bands, Bono has been privileged to many things not afforded to the ordinary citizen. He grew up in Ireland, observed the violence and injustice firsthand in his own homeland. He later learned about civil rights, Africa’s troubles and the proliferation of poverty around the globe. He is a man on a mission, and his music and recent missionary efforts show he is not just a casual observer.
Many of his albums showcase political themes. The 1982 War album and the recent All That You Can’t Leave Behind evidence his commitment to the world’s issues. But music doesn’t seem to be an effective tool anymore, if it ever was.
Recently, Bono has made himself very active in eliminating world debt and helping the people of Africa. He was a prime member of the Jubilee 2000 and is still very active with its renamed organization, Drop the Debt. Bono has been in Africa for weeks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill.
He obviously has done his homework because not only has he impressed his fans and fellow celebrities (I reference readers to Chris Tucker’s MTV Awards speech.), but he has successfully convinced high-ranking world leaders that he is not seeking publicity, but instead looking to help those who seriously need it.
TIME magazine and the St. Petersburg Times both graced their covers with Bono’s work in the past months. I don’t know if Bono can save the world, as TIME asks, but I know he can do a great deal to improve it just through his efforts to sway political policy in the United States and overseas. He is a man who does not give up easily and uses his charm and charisma in a way that puts leaders at ease. He does not have an outright personal agenda, which perhaps makes him the best and most ideal lobbyist.
Bono is a great rock star, by the most stereotypical of definitions, but he is a greater humanitarian. How many other music groups dedicate songs to political prisoners and offer information about Amnesty International and Greenpeace in their albums’ liner notes? Perhaps not enough.
It is admirable that Bono has taken his star status beyond a mere concert for aid. He has taken his mission one step further by personally investing himself in his causes and educating himself to such levels that it is impossible not to take him seriously.
At 41, and with a family of his own, perhaps Bono does have something invested – the future of his children.
Either way, it is good to see him trying to throw his arms around the world. Hopefully, others will join him before his arms grow tired.
Michelle Demeter is The Oracle editor in firstname.lastname@example.org