"It's not enough to
rage against the lie...you've got to replace it with the
"The idea that our dreams are one and our fates
The idea that anything -- anything -- is possible.
America the world needs.
That's the America I've always loved." -
* * * * * * * *Begin Bono Speech* *
* * * * * *
"Let's Put Humanity Back on
Posted on October 25, 2008, Printed on
October 25, 2008http://www.alternet.org/story/104506/
addressed 14,000 women in Long Beach, Calif., this week at
The following is an excerpt from his speech.
Rock stars have two urges. (No, really, just two.) They want to change
world, and they want to have fun. And I believe we can't do one
other. It's like music -- no one trusts music that lacks
joy. It's the life
force in rock and roll that we love. Especially in
serious times, in traumatic
times. We need to dig deep to find joy.
So let me repeat, we are here tonight because we want to change the world
a tiny way in our 'hoods or in a grand way in our global community
and in so
doing, find our joy. But we can't change the world without
first changing the
way we look at the world. The way you behave in the world
on the way you view the world. Weltanschauung is what
the Germans call it.
Californians call it your attitude ... dude.
My worldview was shaped by rock and roll. Growing up in the depressed
of the '70s, music was like an alarm clock for me. It woke me
up out of
suburban slumber. It made me believe that my life could have
some purpose outside
of 10 Cedarwood Road.
It was the time of punk
rock. No more flowers in our hair ... no more
flowers, period. I was
weaned on the Clash. The Clash's music was like a public
announcement ... with guitars.
Three teenage boys and me, made some music of
our own. That was the plan.
But in the mid '80s my life -- not just my
hairdo -- changed in unexpected
U2 became part of the
phenomenon that was Live Aid, We Are the World, Feed
the World ... do
you remember that?
My young wife Ali and I went to Ethiopia to see for
ourselves what was going
on. We lived there for a month, working at a
feeding camp and orphanage. The
children had a name for me. They
called me 'the Girl with the Beard.'
Ali and I found Africa a
magical place -- a place of big skies, big hearts,
royal people. Ethiopia didn't just blow our minds, it opened
And it challenged our worldview.
A man begged us to take his son
back with us to Ireland, because in Ireland
he would live, and in
Ethiopia, at that time, there was every chance he would
Ali and I have our own children now.
Four of them. We could have had five.
Our daughters and sons mean more
to us than any other thing.
They are the beauty that can take any pain away.
In my travels I have met kids the mirror image of my own and looked
their faces as they let go of life.
And it makes me even
angrier that their eyes are always free of accusation.
It humbles me
beyond belief that they don't hold it against a world that
spare the 20-cent immunization that would have them back in the bosom of
Even their mothers and fathers ... their grief is pure.
There's no blame,
just acquiescence. ... I know my rage as a parent
would have no end. In fact, it
doesn't. I do hold it against a world that
can accept such things as
They're not inevitable. They're not acceptable. In fact, they're absurd.
History has a way of making ideas that are once acceptable, look
Let's not forget ... "no blacks, no Irish."
Let's not forget
... the back of the bus.
Let's not forget ... apartheid and Jim Crow.
Let's not forget ... women couldn't vote.
Ridiculous, all of it. Totally
absurd. We know that now. Most people didn't
back then. My trip to
Ethiopia, considered in that context, told me what I
needed to do. Not
exactly what to do -- just something, anything, to end the
of what I had seen. It changed my worldview.
That's how I became the least
attractive thing in the world: a rock star with
Except this isn't a cause, is it?
Eight thousand Africans
dying every day of AIDS, TB and malaria --
diseases -- dying for lack of drugs we can buy at any
Twelve million AIDS orphans in Africa, 18 million by the end of the
A whole generation of active adults wiped out, children bringing
That's not a cause, that's an emergency.
are fires we know how to put out.
Yes. It's an absurdity. An absurdity. You
know it couldn't happen here. If
someone on our street was dying
because they couldn't get medicine that we had
in our cabinet, we'd
get them the medicine. If a family was starving at the
end of your
block, you'd get them some food. You know you'd just do it.
You'd do it also because you can.
We can't fix every problem, but the ones we can we must.
And we can. We
can. We have the know-how, the technologies, the
transform public health in the developing world.
With small investments we
can radically improve crop yields, dig wells and
make the land fertile
Turning the desert into fertile land ... sound familiar?
This is California,
this is who you are. I don't have to convince you
of the power of technology.
California is the frontier of what's possible.
The outer boundary of
imagination ... innovation.
More people live
off their imagination in this city than any other on Earth.
surely, down the road from Silicon Valley, I don't have to tell you how
connected we are. Connected in ways we never could have imagined -- our
and our fates.
In a globalized world, Africa is our
neighbor. It's right down the lane. We
see, we know, exactly what's
happening. A continent burns, and we smell the
smoke. It stings our
eyes; it sears our conscience.
But maybe not as much as it should. We live
with it, don't we? We're used to
it ... on a certain level, we've come
to accept it. Men especially. A lot of
men have developed an ability
to live with this absurdity. Most women
Now, I see your expression. It says:
Oh, Bono, I'll bet you say that to all the girls.
No, really, you're the
Listen, I'm not saying this to flatter you. Not even I -- not even
rather indiscreet rock star -- would have the audacity to use
in the presence of the great Gloria Steinem.
say it because it's true.
This emergency hits women where they live, more
than most men.
As hard as it is to ask fans at a rock show to think about
the value of a
child's life far, far away ... or to ask boardroom
America ... or political
America ... you do not have to explain to the
women of America, the mothers of
America, the value of a child's life.
If you agree, well, why would that be? Why would women be more
Biology? Does it have something to do with that second X
chromosome? Do men, on
the other hand, have some gene that makes them
look the other way ... that
narrows their vision ... that gives them a
penis, but no conscience -- no
I'm no scientist, but there's some anecdotal evidence here.
course it's crap ... biology is not destiny. But it does seem that
women are more empathetic, more attuned to suffering, the reason may be
I think women care more because women bear more of the
burdens of life.
Where AIDS is rampant, women are the hardest hit. In
South Africa last year,
young women ages 15 to 24 accounted for 90
percent of new HIV infections.
Over two-thirds of people with AIDS in
Africa are women.
Where children are orphaned by AIDS, it's women who care
Where schools are few, where education is poor, girls are more
likely to go
Where women are shut out of politics,
they're shut out of a lot more than
Where health systems
collapse, it's women and children who suffer the most.
In Africa, the
likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth is 1 in 20. One in
Where opportunity is scarce, women lag far behind men in income, in access
credit, the chance to start a business, the right to own and
In developing countries, landowners are mostly men, but up to
80 percent of
farmers are women. Eighty percent! So women can't own
the land, but they work
the land. They till the arid soil. They carry
the water all those miles.
This, I know, is a strange time to come to
America and talk about water wells
in Africa. You might not mind my
asking you to care -- but asking you to do
something about it? That's
The most reasonable response might be tell this Irish rock
star to go back to
his posh house in Ireland ... to come back when the
Dow is up ... or when
U2's next record is out. Bye-bye, see you then.
It's counterintuitive, at best, to ask this country to look outward at a
when it's so tempting to turn inward. Tempting to double-lock the
stop answering the phone, focus on your own problems for a
while. I get it.
Clearly these are momentous times in America, times of
crisis, times of
chaos. Capitalism is on trial. Americans are
struggling: losing homes, losing
jobs, losing savings. The U.S. ...
the world ... is changing shape in unsettling
ways. You can feel it
... the tectonic plates are starting to shift. Can I
say that in
California? Maybe not.
But this is exactly the right time to think about the world. Even to
All of a sudden, nothing is set in stone; everything's
up for grabs.
Historically, it's times like these, times of challenge,
when America discovers its true greatness. Right
when everyone's full of
fear. You heard Maria (Shriver) today talk
about fear. This is when Americans
rediscover who they are. What they
believe. What their values are. What they're
are the questions we ought to be asking.
Who we are, what we're about. And,
by the way, what we're not about.
We're not about
having our scientists come up with miracle drugs and then
get them to the people who need them.
We're not about mosquito bites or
dirty water as a death sentence.
We're not about politicians making promises
and failing to keep them, which
is what they are doing right now.
One more thing we're not about:
We're not about charity; we're about
justice. Justice and equality.
Aren't we? Do we actually believe that a
child's life in Africa has the same
value as a child's life in
America? That they are equal before the eyes of
God as it says in your
blessed Declaration of Independence. Doesn't it say in
Scriptures ... "love thy neighbor," and isn't that a command, not a
And when Dr. King said, "I have a dream," was he just
talking about an
American dream? I thought it was an Irish dream, a
Latin American dream, an
Dr. King's dream was a
dream big enough to include all of us. All humankind.
If we really
believe that, if we're really ready to say, yes, we are equal,
Africans are our brothers and sisters, then we're going to have to make
We're going to need some new ideas.
Or maybe just
revisit some old ideas.
Like the two-centuries-old idea of America.
America, don't you know, is not just a country, it's an idea. Think
that for a second. Your country is not just a geographical
location, it's an
The idea that all men, and women, are
That the poorest matter as much as the richest.
That in a
world of plenty, no one should die for lack of food in their
That where you live should not determine whether you live or you die.
The idea that our dreams are one and our fates are one.
The idea that
anything -- anything -- is possible.
That's the America the world needs.
That's the America I've always loved.
I've loved America since I was a kid ... watching you all on television
on black-and-white television in my house on Cedarwood Road ...
put a man on
You know I'm 9 years old ... and I'm
thinking Americans are crazy ... "Hey
honey, is that the moon up
there? Let's take a walk on it. Let's bring back a
piece." I love that
You know, the funny thing about the astronauts in the Apollo
program ... When
they came back home, the thing they talked about the
most was not the moon.
It was the Earth.
They marveled at the
Earthrise. We've all seen that first picture. Taken
1968 -- America at war, cities in flames, but the Earth, from
so serene ... so beautiful ... so very fragile.
The astronaut who took that
photo, Bill Anders, said when he returned: "We
came all this way to
explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we
A trip to the moon changed their worldview. It changed America's
It changed everyone's worldview. America, by its vision,
its sheer ingenuity, changed the way we all saw
ourselves. We saw that our
planet is small. That it's adrift -- alone
-- a light in the darkness. That it
needs our protection. That we upon
it are one, whether we want to be or not.
America enabled the world to step
outside itself and look back.
To see ourselves as we truly are.
America looks outside of itself, its view of itself is never clearer.
Its faith in itself is never firmer.
Its purpose is never stronger.
Today, at a time when America, again, is tempted to turn inward, turn
from the world and its troubles, it is more essential than ever
that you look
America: We are not asking you to put
another man, or woman, on the moon.
America: We are asking you to help put
humanity back on this Earth.
* * * * * * * *End Bono's Speech* * * * * * * * *