Mar 072002

Last night I fell asleep while working on my column with a copy of Time magazine over my face and I had the coolest dream.

I dreamed I was Bono, the lead singer of rock band U2, who happened to be on the cover of Time this week. U2 members formed their band during a period when the streets of Belfast, Dublin and London were rocked more by the terrorism of Irish Republican Army bombs than music. They wanted to protest this terrorism known as “The Troubles” in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Their current single “Walk On” from their album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” won a Grammy for Record of the Year and has now become an anthem for Americans to turn to when thinking of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

In my dream as Bono, I was experiencing a life that far too few people have the chance to live. I was singing at the halftime show of the Super Bowl with the names of the victims of the attacks scrolling behind me one day and the next day I was meeting with Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell or Jesse Helms trying to gain support for the Debt Aid, Trade for Africa group which the members of U2 created.

DATA is trying to get influential people to lobby Congress to give debt relief to African countries that can’t afford to buy their people educational opportunities or health care. Bono’s argument for why the United States should get involved is that there are potentially another 10 Afghanistan-like situations in Africa and it would be cheaper for Americans to help prevent a fire than to help extinguish one.

Inspired by the 1984 Live Aid concert, an Ethiopian famine-relief effort headed by singer Bob Geldof, Bono and his wife spent six weeks working in an orphanage in Ethiopia. They found out just how bad the famine was when fathers asked them to take their children back with them because they would have less chance of dying.

Being the lead singer of a successful, Grammy-winning rock band would be fun, but wouldn’t it be great if you also had the time and money to work to support charitable causes and had the fame to get the opportunity to talk to people who have the power to influence others?

“I’ll never forget one day during my administration,” former President Clinton told Time, “Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers comes into my office and says, ‘You know, some guy just came in to see me in jeans and a T-shirt and he just had one name, but he sure was smart. Do you know anything about him?'”

Bono’s fame as a singer hasn’t necessarily guaranteed his voice will always be listened to. He recently met with 30 G.O.P. Congressmen about his debt relief plans and found his message didn’t fall on deaf ears, but the Republicans were sick of hearing about aid packages that had been misused in the past.

“They’re tough, but they’re willing to listen,” Bono said.

At least he’s trying. It seems many stars contribute to causes but don’t really put their hearts into it. Think of how much of a better place we would be living in if all people like Bono such as movie stars, politicians, musicians and athletes who have a wealth of money and influence worked as passionately to change the world.

Bono gets the chance to live a dream every day and I admire how he genuinely seems concerned about events that can rock the world so suddenly. Congress should listen to his ideas to help provide aid and debt relief to poor countries in Africa and elsewhere. Bono’s ideas would be music to the ears of many people.

Josh Hardin is a senior majoring in technical journalism.

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