One of the people I admire is Bono of the rock group U2. Since Live Aid in 1985, Bono has worked incessantly to make a difference, especially in debt ridden countries and in the fight against AIDS. Bono’s cry to help Africa brought the world’s and world leaders’ attention to the AIDS epidemic there. Families had to choose who would live and who would die because there were not enough drugs for all to live.
And so it was with great interest I watched an RTÉ One interview with Bono on Gay Byrne’s "The Meaning of Life" television series (which is on the web for 12 more days as of the date of this blog; not sure after that). It was broadcast on June 25. The interview was not about U2 per se but about Bono. He discussed growing up in a Protestant/Catholic marriage, his relationship with his father, his teenage years, the role Bob Geldof has played in his life, U2 as a business, activism, the importance of love over faith, and extensively and candidly discussed his spiritual beliefs.
Here are some highlights on topics that may be interest to readers of this blog. (Any errors in transcription are mine).
- On Business and Taxes: In 2006 U2 shifted its headquarters out of Ireland to save money on taxes. Bono discussed: “The shock horror moment here is U2 behaving as a business . . . Tax competitiveness is a central part of Irish economic life. . . We pay a lot of tax. But we are tax sensible. . . Why can’t U2 be tough in business.”
- On Being Tough: “I am tough. I may sing from a very private and intimate place and I make art but I am tough minded and intellectually rigorous I hope.”
- On Contracts and Purpose: In the early 1980s, after U2’s first and widely acclaimed album, Bono and The Edge (U2 lead guitarist) approached the band’s manager, Paul McGuinness about quitting U2. They were part of a Christian community, Shalom, who felt rock ‘n roll was incompatible with trying to make a difference in a “broken world.” They told Paul McGuinness, “We’re done.” McGuinness told them to ask God about commitments and breaking contracts. So they went on with a scheduled tour. Edge wrote “Sunday Bloody Sunday. Bono: “We started to realize that our music was the way we spoke to the world, these were prayers of a kind, and what are we doing hanging out with people who didn’t understand this.”
- On Activism: “I have one idea when it comes to activism. Don’t let it be a creation of the left; don’t leave the right out . . . why leave half out?”
- On Meeting with World Leaders: “Don’t take the obvious route. The meeting will be longer if you solve their problem.”
- On Making a Difference: When asked how the world has improved in the past 30 years, Bono cited the World Bank, 7256 fewer kids under five years of age dying every day. He sees the biggest problem now is corruption and the biggest need is transparency.
- Giving Credit: Bono talked about his meeting with George W. Bush and others. And he gave credit to George W. Bush for his leadership in fighting AIDS in Africa. “You have to say this, it’s the single largest ever amassing of resources against a single disease in the history of the planet . . . God bless America.”
- On Human Potential: “The miracle of just being in U2 is mad. We were the crappiest band and we were useless but we had this spirit between us, we found the best in each other, I think love if you really push it, what it's about, surely it is about realizing potential, isn’t it? It’s about realizing your own potential, and realizing somebody else’s potential, that’s the job of love and I think that’s what God wants from us, to realize your potential to be what you can possibly be and the greatest sadness to me on this Earth is the waste of human potential . . . “
- On Integrity and Humility: “Dignity is not what’s important, integrity’s important, and humility . . . Only a truly sound mind who has a clear view of the world and the universe and your place in it, can be humble . . .”
Image of Bono from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bono_-_World_Economic_Forum_Annual_Meeting_2011.jpg
Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Moritz Hager