Good article in BusinessWeek on Bono's activism and effectiveness in fighting poverty and disease in Africa:
Perhaps no celebrity alive today is more effective at leveraging his fame for social good than Bono. A day earlier, he had launched a new fund-raising effort called Product Red, an effort to exploit famous brands such as Armani, Gap, and American Express to raise money for efforts to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Africa. Gap, for example, will sell an African-made T-Shirt (guess what color...uh, red), and Giorgio Armani is designing a pair of sunglasses. American Express will issue a Red credit card. A percentage of the sales that the products generate will go to the cause.
No question that Bono's intentions are good. But celebrity-led relief efforts still make some people uneasy. Star power generates publicity, but it's not so clear what the lasting effect is. "This could be something to put poverty on the map," said Douglas Holt, a professor of marketing at Said Business School at Oxford University, speaking between sessions at the Davos Congress Center. But Holt said such efforts are unlikely to motivate passive consumers to become anti-poverty activists. "It builds awareness, but what we need is a new social movement."
To Bono's credit, his understanding of the issues is far from shallow, and he's articulate. He held his own against the intellectual firepower of Wolfowitz and Brown, at one point launching into a history lesson about how Alexander Hamilton's policies early in U.S. history had paved the way for economic expansion. (full article)
As the article states above, Bono's knowledge and depth is real, which I learned about in a different context. As a general partner at Elevation Partners, a private equity firm on Sand Hill Road, I heard that he wasn't part of their team in just name sake, but an active and contributing member of their team. Supposedly he's already seen over 80 potential deals.
On another issue, an interview of Bono I read months ago showed how insightful and intelligent he is to me because it was one of the best discussions on God's grace I've heard in a long time...
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?
Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.
Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.
Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.
Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.
Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.
Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.
Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.
Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.
Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled… . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.