Bono wants his charitable organization The ONE Campaign to have as much influence over U.S. lawmakers as the National Rifle Organization. Rolling Stone reported that on Thursday night (December 6th), the U2 frontman spoke at the Economic Club of Chicago’s private black tie dinner and took part in an open chat with ECC Chair and Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson. The ONE Campaign, which was co-founded by Bono and President Kennedy’s nephew Bobby Shriver, is an international, nonpartisan, non-profit, advocacy and campaigning organization fighting against extreme poverty and preventable disease, in Africa and across the globe.
Bono said at Thursday’s event, “Whatever you feel about the NRA — and I don’t like them very much — they’re a very well-organized group and we want ONE to be the NRA for the world’s poor. So The ONE campaign — if you’re getting in the way of legislation that will make lives easier for the world’s most vulnerable populations, we’re gonna find out where you live (and) we’re gonna camp outside your office.”
He went on to say, “We have 10 million members, 3 million of them in Africa now, it will eventually be more; we’ll have more members south of the equator than north of the equator. . . The single biggest intervention in the history of medicine to fight disease was America’s leadership fighting HIV/AIDS, and it was started by President Bush, but it was continued — and this is really critical – by President Obama, and in fact he spent more money on it because he was longer in office. In cases of decreased sexual activity, we can use drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. And the reason that bipartisan support has — and this is a big thing to say, but I know the math — there’s 22 million people in the poor world, in the developing world in Africa, largely, on antiviral drugs because of a bipartisan push, and Americans need to be remembered that what they can do when they work together, reminded.”
Bono added, “Extreme poverty hits women first and worst. And it just does, whether it’s education — 130 million girls don’t go to school largely because they’re girls. There’s health. HIV/AIDS is still the number one killer of women in the world, and in sub-Saharan Africa, young women are twice as likely to get infected than young men. And in fact, if you can accept this, it’s 7,000 young women a week. . . .You never see human potential more squandered than in the dire despair of poverty and extreme poverty and to realize –and I’ve said this before and I hope it’s still not a cliche – that where you live can never decide whether you live. That f**** me up.”
Bono, whom over the years has used his influence not only for AIDS research, but numerous causes — ranging from Band Aid and Live Aid to Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Burma Action, and Live 8 — told us a while back that his message to the world is that the fates of the world’s poorer nations and global disease absolutely affects the United States and other developed countries: “It’s back to karma again, and unless you put it right everyone in a globalized economy, where everyone is interdependent, there’s no escape. You can’t close the door and say, ‘That won’t happen. That won’t affect us over here.’ In the end, it will, and America will spend more money trying to put out the fires, and we’re just trying to convince people this is an effective value for it.”
Photo Courtesy of Interscope