Bono in Conversation
For those of you that know me, know I love U2 and I love Bono. So, when my fiancé gave me the gift of a book called, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, you know it was a great gift. By the way, just to go on record, I have never met Bono, I have worked at Bread for the World for 7 years and not once have I gotten to meet the man. Lots of other Bread staff have, but I have not - I'm not bitter about that at all...
I digress. The book up until page 80 was okay - more fluff with a few sparks of interest here and there. However, the author, Michka Assayas, starts the new section beginning on page 80 with a note of warning that the conversation turned heavy. Heavy? I love it - the conversation finally got some meat to it and finally I'm reminded why I love Bono so much. He is so articulate in such an elegant and poetic way. He captures feelings and beliefs I have so much better than I have ever been able to say them.
For instance, in a bit where he was talking about equality and God's vision of equality he retells a Biblical story with so much more character, while also challenging the reader.
Equality is an idea that was first really expressed by the Jews when God told them that everyone was equal in His eyes. A preposterous idea then and still hard to hang on to now. You can imagine these farmers standing there with sheep shit on their shoes in front of Pharaoh. And Pharaoh would say: 'You are equal to me?' And they'd look in their book and they'd go: 'That's what it say's here.' After a while, people accepted that, though not easily. Rich and poor were equal in God's eyes. But not blacks! Black people can't be equal. Not women! You're not asking us to accept that?! You see, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we have to accept this: it says that everyone is equal. Now most people accept that women, blacks, Irish, and Jews are equal, but only within these borders. I'm not sure we accept that Africans are equal.
Brilliant. I love this idea of the sheep shit on the shoes! It's real! :o) The other piece I resonated with was in the context of the author highlighting that some people may accuse Bono of being too idealistic - that he's hurting the cause by trying to see too much good in people when there is so much inherent bad. In response Bono retells a story that was told to him by Harry Belafonte about a period during the civil rights movement when Bobby Kennedy was made attorney general. Bobby Kennedy at that point was not at all friendly towards the civil rights movement, so after the appointment Dr. King was in a meeting with other civil rights leaders all these people were complaining and moaning about how awful Bobby was and how much trouble the movement was in for. Dr. King "slammed his hand down" and demanded that everyone stop complaining and instead find something good to say about Bobby. No one could, so Dr. King ended the meeting and said he wouldn't convene a meeting again until someone could find something good to say about Bobby Kennedy because he knew there must be something positive about Bobby. The story goes on and they did find a way to connect to him and the rest is history about Bobby's role in the civil rights movement. Bono went on to say:
And whether he [Harry Belafonte] was exaggerating or not, that was a great lesson for me, because what Dr. King was saying was: Don't take people on rumor. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause. And I've held on to that very tightly, that lesson. And so, don't think that I don't understand. I know what I'm up against. I just sometimes do not appear to.
That lesson really resonated with me. I think we often have the tendency to think that all politicians are evil, corrupt people - partly because all we hear about are the scandals. But what Bono and Dr. King remind us is that there is good in people and it is our responsibility to see that or find it. It's really easy to write people off, but if we want to see change brought to this earth we have to work hard at it and we can't decide some people aren't worth working with.
Thanks Bono for inspiring me again today!
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