ONE co-founder Bono is a contributing columnist for the New York Times and his latest column appears today.
Written as a screenplay that spans 20 years, the piece focuses on both the artistic process and some important work in Germany during the 2007 G8 summit. Below is an excerpt from a scene at the 2007 G8 in which Bono, Bob Geldof, Youssou N’Dour and ONE’s policy team speak with Chancellor Angela Merkel about Germany fulfilling its aid commitments. You can read the full piece here.
The atmosphere is tense. The activists are not getting what they want. The leaders are not getting what they want, either, which is to be left alone by the activists, including the Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, Bono and another grizzled Irish rocker, BOB GELDOF, and their policy team from ONE. The organization took its name from the song — over the protests of the songwriter, who felt that if history eventually repeats itself as farce, then irony, the next time around, sounds annoyingly earnest.
BOB (whose humor and intellect more than excuse the percussive expletives that pepper even the most formal meetings) Chancellor, what Germany has done is awe-inspiring. You’ve spent most of the last 20 years spending something like 4 percent of your G.D.P. on reunification … and yet you’re still willing to commit 0.7 percent of G.D.P. to global economic development. The lives of people you will never know or meet will be owed to this decision…. The 2008 budget backs that up, but the rest of the world will need to see ’09 to know you’re serious.
BONO (interrupting) Trajectory is everything. If the ’09 is like ’08, Germany will show the rest of the G-8 that they have to put money on the table as well as words.
MERKEL (who has met these men before and appeared to enjoy the encounters, but today is running out of patience with anyone who threatens to rain on her G-8 parade) I’m not prepared to commit beyond 2008. We will of course do our best.
BONO (at his least appealing) Let me just say, Madam Chancellor, that, like Bob, I’m intoxicated by the new Germany. Fifty thousand turned up today to stand in solidarity with the world’s poor. You yourself are so committed…the government…the coalition. And we absolutely take you at your word, but if the others don’t come through … well, you know nothing creates cynics faster than when leaders accept applause for commitments they then fail to meet. It’s one thing to break a promise to yourself or to your own electorate, but to break a promise to the most vulnerable people on the planet is profane.
MERKEL (in a quiet, calm voice) My father taught me a very important lesson when I was a girl growing up in East Germany. He said, “Always be more than you appear and never appear to be more than you are.”
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