Note to Bono: World Saving 101
edited: Tuesday, December 23, 2003
By chris volkay
Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2003
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A few tips to Bono on what really needs to be done to save the 3rd world.
Note to Bono: World Saving 101
Hello Bono. As you have become the latest rock star with
messianic leanings, 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
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.
Brass tacks? What is the third world? Black Africa. At least
primarily. One billion people. The underlying tacit
assumption is that this mess we call Africa is inhabited by
a mentally inferior people that need our help to save them.
In fact, I remember when I was young,(I’m 49 now) they used
to refer to it as “Africa-The Dark Continent”. If it is
dark, or was dark up until 20 years ago, why was it dark?
Well, up until about 500 years ago, the entire world was
indeed dark. Very dark. 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 isn’t being strangled by inferior people, only by
it’s continued adherence to centuries old religious thinking
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
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
wrong 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.