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Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 12 April 2007

BONO SPEAKS FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE

By Jim Jordal

"Is not this the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."

Isaiah 58:6-8, referred to by Bono is his remarks

In February, 2006, Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Members of Congress joined President Bush and other dignitaries in hearing a prominent musician speak forcefully against poverty, disease, hunger, and worldwide economic injustice. Bono also urged the U.S (and by implication other leading nations of the world) to provide immediate, serious action against these curses before they overwhelm rich as well as poor.

Bono made what we might call prophetic pronouncements. Some Christians discount comments of a prophetic nature made by laymen under the mistaken view that only clergy or persons highly educated in matters of faith can make prophetic pronouncements. But if you read the book of Amos and many others, you'll find that God often inspires rather common people to utter his prophetic word.

Continuing his remarks on economic justice, Bono defined several current issues of economic justice: "Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products…that's a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents…that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents…that's a justice issue. That's why I say there's the law of the land, and then there is a higher standard."

Bono also remembered, "A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small. I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it. I have a family, please look after them. I have this crazy idea…And this wise man said: 'stop.' He said, 'Stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Get involved in what God is doing--because it's already blessed.' Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what he's calling us to do."

Bono concluded his remarks with a dangerous idea--"I'm on very thin ice…that Christian, Jewish, and Islamic scriptures all require the less fortunate of society to be treated with compassion and justice." Because of this common injunction, he asked that a "tithe" of one percent of the U.S. federal budget be added to the considerably less than one percent already being contributed for relief of poverty, sickness, and lack of education in the developing world.

"What is one percent? One percent is not merely a number on a balance sheet. One percent is the girl in Africa who gets to go to school, thanks to you. One percent is the AIDS patient who gets her medicine, thanks to you. One percent is the African entrepreneur who can start a small family business, thanks to you. One percent is not redecorating presidential palaces or money flowing down a rat hole. This one percent is digging waterwheels to provide clean water. One percent is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism toward Africa, where increased assistance flows toward improved governance and initiatives with proven track records and away from boondoggles and white elephants of every description."

"American gives less than one percent now. We're asking for an extra one percent to change the world, to transform millions of lives [including] the way they see us. One percent is national security, enlightened economic self-interest, and a better, safer world rolled into one. Sounds to me that in this town of deals and compromises, one percent is the best bargain around."

"To give one percent more is right. It's smart. And it's blessed. There is a continent--Africa--being consumed by flames. I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did--or did not do--to put out the fire in Africa. History, like God, is watching what we do."

NOTE: Readers please spend some time considering all of Isaiah 58. God promises national security ("the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard"); recovery of national spiritual and moral health ("Your recovery will speedily spring forth"); answers to prayer ("you will call, and the Lord will answer"). He also offers great national blessing ("and you will be like a watered garden"); and restoration of the foundations of national greatness lost in our disobedience to His word ("those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in").

As Bono says: "One percent is the best bargain around." It's only sad to me that Bono spoke to power the message that should be delivered loudly and continuously by ecclesiastical and business leaders