The job or mission of Rock n’ Roll from its inception has been to shake things up; to make people think; reconsider; and make the established rules and norms of society wholly uncomfortable.
As a band, U2 has long been at the forefront of this crusade – their music is rebellious, provocative and compelling. In the band’s early days, they received a lot of criticism for their lyrics being too preachy, too political. More notably, their critics often complained that while the band’s lyrics were preachy and political, the band, said the critics, should take a more active role in ending the stories of injustice which were being referred to in their songs and at their concerts.
So, taking this to heart, Bono as well as other members of the band, have in fact taken a much more active role in not just singing about their charitable causes, but also becoming members of those causes and forming organizations to help their causes along.
In that sense, they are not unlike any other special interest group on the planet, whether a charitable organization or a multi-trillion dollar corporation, all of which beg at the chance of bending a politician’s ear in an effort to gain support for their respective causes.
While no one bats an eye when a corporation or charity gains an audience with political leaders, the same is not true when it is a celebrity. People often say that the celebrities should stick to their platforms of choice when it comes to political maneuvering, that they ought to restrict those beliefs and causes to the stage or screen from whence they came. And yet, if they did – as critics of U2 in the past have proven – when they don’t become more involved, they are also maligned for their inactivity and supposed lack of conviction.
But, how is one to gain support for causes if not to gain the support of those who can effect real change and enact policies to promote that change?
I suggest that it is not the fact that it is Bono bending the ears of Canadian political leaders Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau which makes people uncomfortable. What makes people uncomfortable is you have a rock star who can hold his own with politicians and who can speak informatively and candidly on the subjects compelling him to request their audience in the first place. Moreover, it makes people even more uncomfortable that someone like Bono has evolved far beyond the white flag-wielding lad he was in the early to mid-1980s and has grown into not only a musical but cultural icon with a noble agenda – making the world a better place for all of us.
In other words, Bono is shaking things up, making people think, making us reconsider our priorities and forcing us to grow far past the confines of our comfortable little lives, which makes most of us very uncomfortable indeed.
And yet the people who SAY they want to eradicate social injustices and end world poverty and obtain peace in our time seem content to leave things up to politicians who are largely in the pockets of special interest groups like Big Oil and Big Business who have no one’s interest or welfare in mind other than their greedy own.
Our planet continues to suffer, our children continue to starve and die and wars continue with no visible end.
So, to Bono I would say, “Thanks, man and keep up the great work!”
To the rest of the doubters, haters and critics, I would ask, “So, what’s YOUR idea?”