Hello Bono. As you have recently been named one of Time
magazine's "People of the Year," I thought a few tips on how
to really save the world might be in order.
Rock stars have a long history of involvement in social
issues. Dylan and the Beatles pioneered rock star social
consciousness in the 60's. In the 70's it was George
Harrison and his concert for Bangladesh. Then the 80's, Live
Aid and Michael Jackson's "We are the World."
200 million pounds were raised by Bob Geldof to combat world hunger in
1985. Of course, 200 million pounds is only one weeks debt
repayment of third world countries (Africa) to us first worlders.
After all this aid and awareness we still have an ongoing
tragedy occurring in Africa. Millions are dying or infected
with Aids or HIV, many millions more are starving, wars,
civil wars, tribal wars injure and kill millions more with
clock-like regularity. I would opine that we could raise a
billion dollars per week and it wouldn't alleviate the
problems of the third world.
The initial approaches to the problem involved giving money
and aid. Laudable certainly, the only problem is that it
doesn't work. Now Bono champions the new approaches, let's
reduce the debt of third world countries and free up the
capital they will need to care for themselves. This with
recognizing World Aids day(again, certainly laudable),
comprises the new one-two punch of saving the world.
Up until about 500 years ago, the entire world was
essentially in the same boat. The entire world slumbered,
throughout medieval times and the middle ages under the
somnolent fog of superstition and religion. All light, all
thought, all science, all reason, all rationality were swept
aside and crushed under this theological tsunami. Then about
500 years ago, The Renaissance, Da Vinci, later the
Enlightenment, all that good stuff. Suddenly, mankind had
found its head again, science began to take form, reason and
rationality began taking baby steps. But unfortunately, it
didn't take hold in Africa because the situation in Europe
was unique to that region, for more reasons than I can go
Jump ahead 500 years to present day. (Hold onto your hats,
here comes the big quote.) The principal difference between
us first worlders and the third worlders is simply that we
threw off the yoke of religious malaise and Africa didn't.
Africa is being strangled by it's continued adherence to
centuries old religions that kept us all in the dark for
much of human history. Or as Tai Solarin, one of Nigeria's
leading educators put it, "they must be educated to stand on
their feet. The worst bane of African nondevelopment is the
chronic dependence on the deity to solve all earthly
problems. Give everybody education for self-reliance and we
will vie with the best nations everywhere".
Now comes Bono preaching. Even his songs contain religious
references and lyrics. "I believe in kingdom come", "if you
want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel". Wrong. Get
people up off their knees and standing on their own feet,
living here and now in this world, this is the way to help
and strengthen people. For, in my view, it is the religion
itself, that serves to keep people weak and subservient.
Only by emboldening people with science and secularism will
we ever be able to help anyone. This is the lesson of
Europe, it can be the lesson of Africa as well.
Yes, by all means give aid, forgive debt and curb Aids, but
until we are able to fundamentally change the way people
think about themselves and life it will all be for naught.
Give them the tools to begin fishing for themselves instead
of giving them fish.
All the rest is, while laudable, destined to fail.