Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bono on justice: A prophet's voice in the wilderness -- or in shades and leather

"How we listen determines what we hear." In Orion magazine's September | October issue Jay Griffiths writes about the critical events of our world today, and how the mass media "focusing on the incident — the man on wire or the lone gunman killing a child — the mass media ignores a system of corporate peonage which imprisons and executes a million childhoods. The barker on the boulevard of ordinary life is shouting out 'Extra! Extra!' — pointing to the Extra!ordinary and ignoring the ordinary. The media gives a false proximity to the incidental, but a false distance to systemic wrongs."

..."In the widest sense, this is about how society tells truths to itself and the sources of truths, which include history, the land, the academy, the poets, and the media."

..."For almost all of history, societies have trusted shaman-poets to speak truths, whether that truth is literal or metaphoric, and the poets have had real power."

Griffiths concludes that there is "a direct —inverse—relation between environmental devastation and the respect given to the voice of the shaman-poet. When either one is in ascendance, the other will be in decline, which is why that voice has never been more ignored, never more reviled, and never more needed than now."

Though Griffiths addresses the issue of environmental destruction here, his words about a poet-prophet translate equally to all areas of injustice. Who are the prophets of today? There are many, but are their voices being heard?

Bono is one poet-prophet, whose music, lyrics and voice can bring me both to tears and action. He surprised many when he bridged the ideological gap and addressed justice issues of health care, giving help and the crisis in Africa before George W. Bush and those gathered at the White House prayer breakfast in 2007. His words, like Griffiths, ring true across issues, and strke a chord for me about our current health care debate.

..."So on we go with our journey of equality. On we go in the pursuit of justice.

We hear that call in the ONE Campaign, a growing movement of more than two million Americans ... left and right together, united in the belief that where you live should no longer determining whether you live.

Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of a free market — that's a justice issue. Holding children 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. ... And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject."

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