Oprah: Joy is a very high energy field.
Bono: I'm grumpy. You seem to have a level of joy. Are there months when things aren't going right for you, when you're in a trough, or do you have just, like, one bad day a week?
Oprah: Not even a bad day a week.
Oprah: Absolutely not.
Bono: Well, I have a couple of bad days a week.
Oprah: So tell me this: Where do your commitment and passion come from? For as long as I can remember, you've been using your voice to make a difference in the world.
Bono: Growing up in Ireland was part of it—the simple, practical life of Irish people. Wherever you go in Africa, you find an Irish priest or a young nun. They're everywhere! And then, of course, Bob Geldof [formerly of the Boomtown Rats] is my friend, and we did the whole Live Aid thing together. [Held simultaneously in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1985, Live Aid was the biggest benefit concert in history, raising millions of dollars for famine relief in Ethiopia.] Around that time, my wife and I lived in Ethiopia for a month, in a tent in a feeding station in the middle of nowhere. It was extraordinary. That royal Ethiopian thing is in these people; that Solomon and Queen of Sheba thing is all around. At my site, there was barbed wire, like a concentration camp—but the wire was meant to keep people out, not in. A man walked up to me, gave me a child, and said, "You take my son. He'll live if you take him." And I couldn't take the boy. But that really formed my commitment. I remember coming home on the plane saying, "We'll never forget this."
Oprah: And did you forget?
Bono: I did. Yet somewhere inside me, I'll always remember it. Somewhere there was a prayer to say, and there will be a way to help. What I saw in Ethiopia wasn't just about people falling on hard times. It was a wider problem—political, not just social. So in this work, the circle is becoming a bit completed for me now. And my people have been supportive. The Irish can be annoying—and I'm one of them—but they really are good. Here in Africa, I'm the anomaly. It's an odd and freakish thing that I, an Irish guy, am sitting here and that you're even asking me questions. Yet the people we'd choose to describe the condition of the world are not often the people God would choose. The chosen may be punk rockers or hip-hop people. But nonetheless, the state of the world will be described.
We Hear You!