Sunday, May 16, 2004

My Hometown of Philadelphia-5/16/2004-Philadelphia, PA

A little more than a year ago, Agnes and I, and a motley crew rode around the heart of America in a bus, a big old bandwagon, trying to get people to get on board for the next step in the journey of equality - that next step is Africa.Africa. Beautiful shining continent, Africa.There was a weird, weird bunch of people on that bus. Chris Tucker was on this bus. Ashley Judd was on that bus. Students, soccer moms, smokers, non smokers, bankers, wankers.. all on the bus. And church folks on that bus, praise the Lord, rock stars, and people with their mouths more under control than I.Will Smith rang me before he came on and said 'I wanted to be on that bus and I will be on that bus in the future, say hello to my hometown of Philadelphia.' We're on the same bus because we share the same beliefs; that Africa, an entire continent is on fire and the people of America can put that fire out.We are touched by the work of so many people here and that trip that we took through the heart of America and the flood of activism inundated the White House with calls, petitions, emails and letters. I know a lot of you picked up the phone, picked up a pen and did a lot more than that, and a lot of you people are here. People like Jerry Flood, from the Catholic Bishops Conference, amazing people like that. People like Paul Davis, from Healthcap. They're extraordinary by the way, the paratroopers.Well, we spoke as one, we are... not... The same... and within months the US stepped forward with an historic AIDS initiative and that's no coincidence when people like us actually can get together and and raise our voice as one... We. Change. The. World.And you know it's a fact because if only when people speak as one like when we, when you people spoke as one to crush Jim Crow, you spoke as one for civil rights, you spoke as one to end apartheid, you are still raising your voice for access to treatment here in America, and people here in Philly are leading that fight. Governments have their say but change does not come unless people demand it, and today we are demanding it. We will join our voices once again to speak, march, and act up together as one. We're going to take the next step on the journey of equality... and what a pain in the arse equality turned out to be!Really, it just won't let us sit still, will it, and it won't let our leaders sit still either, and I'm proud to be a pain in their arse! In case the FCC are listening, arse is an Irish word! Thank you...Equality is demanding of us. It disturbs the status quo; it was once preposterous to think of a woman running a corporation or a Black man running a (sic) President. Preposterous, impossible.(laughter)I think it's preposterous to think that YOU! (points at a small child) could run a corporation by the way! Well one day, it will be preposterous to think that we can let so many perish for no good reason. History has a way of making ridiculous, ideas that were once acceptable; like apartheid, gone! It's an important moment and we're on the right side of history here, I do believe, and we're six months away from a presidential election, which could be decided by this state! Interested? That's the power of one state. We're two weeks away from an historic meeting of world leaders in Georgia... at this very moment. At this very moment Congress is debating how fully to fund the programs that will give life and hope to the people of Africa, at this very moment literally. The administration is deciding which AIDS drugs to buy with your tax dollars, either cheap generic versions to help as many people as possible, or the more expensive branded drugs which will not go as far. The future is being decided today. It's an important decision.So we're launching the One Campaign to unite America in the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. We know that if we work together, we can win the fight, and together we must because African people are, guess what, are our equals in the eyes of God. They are our brothers and sisters. Our lives ARE interconnected and interdependent, and this is not just some warm fuzzy feeling kind of way. They actually are equal in the eyes of God and man, and let�s start treating people therefore equally.I must say it really, really annoys me, it just really annoys me when we put our brothers and sisters in Africa like Agnes here, and Dikembe, like they're standing there helpless, like they're dependent on the crumbs from our table, when you know what --these are not charity issues, this is a justice issue. Not letting these people trade with us, that's a justice issue, when we can flood their market with cheap products but they can't put their products on our shelves, that's a justice issue. Not a charity issue!Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents, from years and years ago during the Cold War when we gave a lot of crooks money, cos at least they weren't Communists; that is not a charity issue, that's a justice issue.And guess what, God our father in Heaven is PISSED OFF.One person. One petition. One phone call to Congress, one letter to the President, one email to friends -- it starts with one person, one action, and it starts growing, building momentum, multiplying its power, one by one.You know many people are here today? I counted it. I'm a rock star, I can count. Three million people are here because that's what these people and their various organizations represent all over America and all over the map. Three million people. I've never spoken to three million people before; this is a first time for me.How'm I doing? You know, you wouldn't wanna be a rock star if you weren't insecure, just want to make, be honest with you.It's a lot of volume. It's a *lot* of volume.And I'm excited about an idea today. I'm excited about the idea that we can be the generation that rids the world of the scourge of AIDS. We can be the generation that rids the world of extreme poverty. We literally can be that generation. That's extraordinary.Yep.. and we just have to work together, and that's not easy. I'm in a band, I'm married, I mean, working together, it's tricky! But you know the statistics... but I think it's important to just remind ourselves why we're here.6300 africans dying every day of AIDS. 500 africans getting infected every day, from AIDS. This is not a cause. We all have our causes...This is an emergency; let's treat it as such.I hate that cause thing.. "Hey Bono we love your cause man. We love that cause." You know, I have causes, we've all got our pet causes, some people, their pet IS their cause.... [laughter]There's things I care about in my community back in Dublin, Ireland, there's lots of things that you care about. This is not a cause. Seven thousand people, seven thousand African people dying every day for want of drugs you can get round the corner here, is not a cause, this is an emergency, and we're going to sort it out.So what are we asking? What are we asking Congress?Well over the next few years, Congress, we want to ask Congress to dedicate an extra one percent of the NFB to give to the poorest and most neglected on this earth, that's right. One percent. I'm not saying that that's enough, a lot of money. but one percent, to transform the lives of hundreds and thousands, indeed millions of people, I don't think is too high a price, and that's the 'ask' here today... and you know if the US does its fair share there's a knock-on effect, because others will follow.One percent more in the US budget will leverage tens of billions of dollars more from other wealthy countries..Other wealthy countries, like Ireland... why did you laugh when I said Ireland? [raises fists and grins]Don't pick a fight with the Irish! We may not invade you with tanks, but our poets are coming!I accept that this is complicated, it's not simple. We have to look at the conditions, the extreme poverty in which this AIDS emergency thrives. Your tax dollars will go further if we strengthen self-sufficiency, through deeper debt cancellation, fairer trade terms, tougher rules to fight corruption.This is important, this stuff prevents Africans from earning their own way out of poverty. We've got to get these obstacles out of Africa's way so they can fight back themselves. So it's not about charity, as I said, it's about justice.And I'd also like to argue in these tense dangerous times, this is not just heart money, it's smart money, okay? Think about it. I've said it to politicians, I've said it to Presidents... paint the drugs red, white and blue. They're great advertisements for the United States, for what the US can do... you know, for, your ingenuity, great, great opportunity for America to redescribe itself at this moment when your flag has been run through the dirt all over the southern hemisphere..Let's actually show, this is an extraordinary country, America. I'm a fan. I'm an annoying fan, and I'm gonna remind you why I love this country. This is the kind of reason I love this country --[gestures at crowd] when I see people moving, acting as one on an issue that doesn't even affect them, for people they haven't met, but love, that's why I love America.About 60 yrs. ago there was another continent in grave danger, that was my continent, Europe. Europe is strong today thanks in part to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after the war. Well that's the kind of plan we need for Africa today. The Marshall plan was great for Europe but it was also great for America."Brand USA" never shone brighter than after the Second World War, when after having liberated Europe, you helped rebuild it. This was smart money, as well as heart money, the Marshall Plan. We need the same audacity, and the same imagination, and the same commitment, of a modern Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan built a bulwark against Sovietism in the Cold War; well today, for half the cost we can build a bulwark against all kinds of extremism, in our age, during the �hot war."These are nervous times, dangerous times as they say. Isn't it cheaper, isn't it smarter to defend ourselves with drugs and these kind of imaginative programs? To make friends, rather than have to pay for defending ourselves against enemies later on?Isn't this just the smart thing to do?I think it's a pretty good bargain. I think the people in DC understand it, the Millennium Challenge and the AIDS initiative, they've got support on both sides of the aisle. It's a great start. Right now is a pivotal moment -- it's an election year in America. We're not trying to get any particular person elected; we're trying to get our issues elected. Will the congress fully fund these vital programs? Will President Bush and Senator Kerry offer sufficiently ambitious plans to beat AIDS and extreme poverty? Will American voters demand that they do? History hangs on their answer. On our answer.And this of course, is where American history got started, Philadelphia. That's why we're here. Right here, this is where the Declaration of Independence was read out loud. This is where the Liberty Bell rang out. And I don't know about you, but I was born across the Atlantic almost a couple hundred years later, but my ears are still ringing from the sound of the Liberty Bell...You read the declaration and you realize America's not just a country, it's an idea. Ring the Liberty Bell, the idea of America, that anything is possible... Hey is that the moon up there? Wow let's get up there, take a walk, bring a piece back, you know? THAT America! That's the America I'm a fan of. America is an idea, not just a country, it's an idea.I come from Ireland and it's a very, very nice country, I recommend you all take a visit, but guess what, it's not an idea. America is an idea, it's about, it's about the idea that anything's possible -- but it's also about the idea that with great power comes great responsibility.It's about the idea that equality is the highest calling, but the hardest to reach. It's about the idea that one person can change the course of history, because these ideas are alive in America. I've heard them in truck stops, high schools, churches, they're as loud as the Liberty Bell. I'm going to ring the Liberty Bell again; we're taking another step in the journey of equality for a better safer world, for our brothers and sisters whom we don't know, but love. To the rhythm of African drummers playing here in Philadelphia sunshine...We're going to ring it for the generation that says NO to unfair trade laws! Ring the Liberty Bell, for a generation that says YES, take our lifesaving drugs at a discount! We're going to ring it for the generation that says NO to people starving in an age of plenty..! [drums started] We're going to ring it for the generation that says YES, Africans are equal to us! We're going to ring it for the generation that says Where you live in the world does not depend on *whether* you will live! We're going to ring it for the generation that says Because we can, we must, we will. Ring the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia once more. Thank you, God bless you.There's one... will you hold that for me, Michael [W. Smith] my good friend?...[Pulls out a cell phone]Let's give Senator Specter a call, shall we?There's a guy, talking about the power of one... here's a man with a vote on the US Congress(sic) that literally can decide whether people like Agnes in Africa right now will live or die, and I know he's interested in these issues but... lest he think this is a �fringe event�... let's just give him a call, shall we?[cell phone]Let's send some smoke signals, Philadelphia...It's an answering machine... This has happened to me before... Senator Specter.. This is Bono and a few friends...[Crowd whoops and cheers]More than a few friends..Senator, we know you take very seriously the American tax dollars that you control very carefully, and the budgetary process in Washington, and we would like to say that it's very very very very important to us, the lives of hundreds and thousands, indeed millions of Africans, who depend on your support in congress this week, and we would like to say..... **It's a short. I can call him back, but I think he might... [shrugs and smiles]Thank you, God bless you....


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