A recent reader survey mentioned that U2 is one of the most overrated bands, with pundits believing a U2 concert is more of a political rally than a music extravaganza.
Fair call – especially when you’re paying serious money to hear music. However at least someone is using their celebrity status to draw attention to issues rather than for endless self-indulgence. What you do with your millions if you were a celeb?
Recent history shows we have individuals who have changed the world. William Wilberforce taking a stand on slavery. Rev. Martin Luther King taking a stand on civil rights and racism. These individuals catalysed entire movements that resulted in real and powerful societal change.
Nowadays we have big campaigns to Make Poverty History, or end 3rd world debt. We have massive initiatives like the Global Poverty Project that claim to “catalyse the movement to end extreme poverty”. These initiatives are exciting and inspiring. They lead people to think about the reality of the world outside our walls.
Can We Really Save the World?
The first rule of understanding aid and development is that is extremely complex. Like environmental interventions, the law of unintended consequences plays out over and over.
Could it be that we are a little bit… arrogant?
We in the West like to fix things. In much the same way as European colonisers thought they could save people in the rest of the world from themselves, we believe we can solve the worlds problems if we just have enough money.
We know best. We’ve got musicians and bands. We’ve got TV campaigns and the Internet. We’ve got power point.
Mea culpa. I want to change the world too. Maybe if I start buying fair trade chocolate I can end extreme poverty.
But then when I look into my own heart I realise I struggle to even stop doing things or having attitudes that I don’t like.
I can’t even save myself.
I watch my children fighting over a new toy. I didn’t teach them to do that – but they always want what the other one has. I can’t even save my kids from their greed.
That doesn’t mean I don’t stop caring, or being moved by compassion to help those in need… but end the injustice and greed in the world when I find the same things in my own heart? Maybe I just need to try harder.
Let’s do what we can, but let’s also get over ourselves.
Our enlightened civilizations in the West are also dogged by depression and suicide. Child abuse and wife-beating. Our enlightenment hasn’t seemed to have stopped us from endless self-medication in the form of drugs (US alone spends an estimated $57 billion to $91 billion per year on illicit drugs) and alcohol. Our money-laden countries are filled with lonely people.
We might have ended extreme poverty (in the OECD) — but we have not managed to create a utopia.
Are you sick of people who want to save the world?
- Photo cred: flickr/nimboo