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More on Martin Luther King
By coincidence, I was watching themartin_luther_king_jr_freedom.jpg U2 Vertigo Tour DVD last night when the band  U2 began playing Pride (In the Name of Love) which is a tribute to Martin Luther King.  I had been thinking about writing a post for Martin Luther King Day and his inspiration as a  leader.  This song is a great reminder of the power of King's message.  Another of my favorite U2 songs is also MLK.

Martin Luther King has provided us with several quotes that offer inspiration to leaders and followers alike.

Favorite King quotes:

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

For more inspiration, read MLK’s I have a Dream. 

For a list of inspiring songs to celebrate the day, see badchristianblog.

Can Rock and Roll Feed the Poor?
I wanted to add a few more thoughts about Bono being named person of the year with Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

A pet peeve of mine is the celebrity that uses his or her performance platform to promote a cause. This is most often not leadership but rather a celebrity trying to find more celebrity with a new audience.  Too often a performer's message is more about tearing someone or someone’s ideology down rather than building bridges or offering solutions. This approach only verifies a celebrities inability to lead or cause change. Yet, because they are popular for reasons completely unrelated to their cause, they assume we may want to listen. It leaves most of us feeling ripped off and exploited.

Bono has not taken this approach. I have been to several U2 concerts. He does promote his cause but it is all positive. Rather than demean or criticize or point a finger of blame, he calls for a solution.bono wef.jpg He calls for positive action and change. And I don’t seem to mind when he talks about the good that people have done and the potential to do more.

There was some criticism and skeptical commentary about the causes that Bono and Gates were engaged in. Most of this criticism was not directed at them but at a system that doesn’t work. Namely, corrupt African dictators that enrich themselves and further poverty by terror and military force.

From Paul Theroux in a New York Times Op Ed and quoted on Fausta’s Blog

“But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions. I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children's Village. I am speaking of the "more money" platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for - and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful”

I would agree with Paul that “dumping more money in the same old way: makes no sense.”  However, I think Bono and Gates understand the issues raised by Theroux.  I can't agree that what  they are doing is a prestige project. 
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The Rock Star and the Nerd
Strange bedfellows indeed -  rock start Bono of U2 and famed nerd Bill Gates of Microsoft. Gates and his wife Melinda and Bono were named persons of the year by Time magazine.
Time noted that while sudden disasters grab the headlines, other tragedies unfold daily. time bono gates.jpg

"And who is proving most effective in figuring out how to eradicate those calamities? In different ways, it is Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders of the world's wealthiest charitable foundation, and Bono, the Irish rocker who has made debt reduction sexy," Time's managing editor Jim Kelly writes.

It is fascinating to me that such an odd couple could share this distinction. What is important is not their differences but their shared commitment to make the world a better place. In this they are one. Their hope for a better world brought them together in 2002. At that time, Bill and Melinda happened to be two of only a handful of baby boomers that did not know and worship U2. Maybe that is why it worked.

Gates and Bono play their hands well and use their strengths. Bono uses his celebrity, influence, charisma and unworldly energy to meet and cajole world leaders. His ability to gain access to top world leaders resulted in the forgiveness of $40 billion in third-world debt owed by the poorest countries of the world. To his credit, his issues have not been political. He is equally comfortable and passionate talking to liberal, conservative and in between. His agenda is a solution not an ideology. His aim, an equal right to food and health for everyone.

Gates on the other hand has money. Lots of it. And to his credit, in 2005 he gave a bunch away for good causes. His concerns are education, global health, improving public libraries and supporting at-risk families.

As two pop icons from two different worlds, their reach and influence is far and diverse. Their message resonates as noted at Chingy84

“The coming 12 months are a test for us all - especially the leaders of G8 nations, whose vision and resolve have never been more on the line…..History's judgment will be harsh if we fail, precisely because we are the first generation with the power to succeed.”
Nov 3
People have the Power
There are plenty of leadership topics that are timely and worthy of writing about. But this post may not include many. Instead you’ll have to hear about two hours of musical ecstasy because I just can’t bring myself to not share the sheer exuberance I experienced at a U2 concert last night. But stick with me.

It was nearly four o’clock yesterday afternoon when I got a call from my wife telling me that she had scored some last minute tickets to the U2 concert at the Staples Center. I am a big fan of live music and catch as many concerts as I can over the course of a year but a chance to see U2 live – in my mind is the mother lode. Not that I haven’t seen them before – I have many times. In fact, I saw Bono and mates in Phoenix just last spring as they embarked on the Vertigo (current) tour.

Now the tour was winding down, would it be as enjoyable having seen the band just six months ago? My anticipation was concentrated and my expectations soared. However, I had no idea how memorable this concert would become. I can’t say enough about this performance. I have been somewhat flummoxed while writing this. The experience last night was so dynamic and filled with emotion that it seems ridiculous to try and convey what it felt like to be there. But such conveyance is a challenge that is worthy of my effort and keenly accomplished by a fellow attendee and U2 blogger.
U2 Bono and Edge.jpg
The show was quite different than in Phoenix last April. In Phoenix, it was typical U2 energy and a set list that was an amazing anthology of the band’s enduring sound. However, last night, Bono seemed more introspective. The lighting was more subdued. Blue and shadows replaced many of the bright reds and yellows of the Phoenix show. While the band was right on, the concert could not have felt any less programmed and planned. That made it special.

As you can note in the set list, the band hooked and weaved several non-U2 songs into their own hits. It was as if Bono, the Edge, Adam and Larry were sharing the music that inspired them but not through a simple cover song. Rather, Bono subtley dropped snippets of non-U2 songs throughout the night including Rockaway Beach and In a Little While (Ramones), Many Rivers To Cross (Jimmy Cliff) Exodus (Bob Marley) Rock The Casbah (The Clash) When Johnny Comes Marching Home (Civil War song) Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division) and People Have The Power (Patti Smith). It was random and magic.
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