Back in the day (circa 84-87) I was a huge U2 fan; I went straight to the record store after school the day The Joshua Tree came out and all that good stuff. But when U2 got more popular than G-d, started playing huge arena shows, etc. I lost interest in them. Sure it was mostly a recalcitrant, late teens "if it's popular it can't be good" kind of thing; but Rattle and Hum did suck balls.
Now I find myself interested in Bono's philanthropic work. I think the thing that I admire the most is the maturity with which Bono has approached his issues, his willingness to work within the system, and to engage people on their own terms. Bono's respectful tone when he addressed President Bush via the Washington Post Op-Ed page on January 27, 2003 should serve as a model for celebrities who want to make their voices heard. There was no hysterics or name calling, just an impassioned plea from a man who was willing to use his position, privilege, and power to try and make the world a better place.
In today's Post, Bono again shows a rare sense of self-knowledge when he acknowledges his own frailties and failings by saying, "Am I ready, a man who has stepped off a private jet a couple of days ago, to pledge my fortune? It doesn't look like it." To me, that speaks volumes about the man; to concede his own imperfections and in doing so, accept that everyone else is going to have their blind spots and ways they can improve too. The quote that really got me was this one:
Bono says. "Both Prime Minister Blair and President Bush knew we were not in support of the war. I've always gone out of my way at U2 shows to show my support for the troops, but it's not something I sound off on. I gave up that right. I have become a single-issue protagonist. And as hard as that is for a mouthy Irishman who's more used to putting his foot in his mouth than his fist, I think people really respect that."
I do Bono, I do.