Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I've come across something I wanted to share, Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. I've got a portion of it below. Click to read the whole thing. I do remember that Bono is a rock star, not a theologian. Some of his statements about Scripture raise questions after I've read them and I have to check out the Bible myself (good for us all to do often) on the subject. But I am glad that he is a Christian of compassion who seeks to use his position to influence the first world to not forget the third world. And because he has talked to a lot of people and traveled, I am interested in his perspective.
These questions nag at me: Can there be justice without equality? Can there be equality without justice? Is the African AIDS epidemic response requiring more than charity? And if equality and justice are needed, how is that provided?
In this context, drug companies have the medicine to treat AIDS, but the people who need it can't afford it. If they can't afford it, they die. The same with malaria, TB and many other diseases. So, what prevents the companies from lowering the prices so that they are within reach? And furthermore, why isn't this headline news more often? Bono isn't trying to influence people to give more, but he's trying to persuade the movers and shakers of big companies to give up the "bottom line" and for the rest of us to get upset that they don't.
I mean, how many of us are shareholders in some of these companies?

But here’s the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There’s is much more to do. There’s a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.

And finally, it’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice.

Let me repeat that: It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.

And that’s too bad.

Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment. 6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality.

Because there's no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the Tsunami. 150, 000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, “mother nature”. In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it’s a completely avoidable catastrophe.

It’s annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren’t they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.

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