As lead singer of U2, Bono is one of the biggest rock stars on the planet. However, he is just as well known for his philanthropy. With his (RED) foundation, Bono works with corporations to raise awareness and money to help fight against HIV/AIDS. In a written piece for Forbes, Bono discusses how realizing the potential of working with businesses and large corporations in order to greater benefit the world.
In the beginning of the piece, Bono clarifies his feelings about capitalism, finding it to be an economic system that can run amuck if not handled properly. Rather than reject capitalism outright, Bono instead believes it should be conditioned in a way that helps people, rather than hinder and exploit them.
With (RED), Bono works with corporations to contribute money to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Through keeping the message alive through spreading continued awareness, Bono and (RED) have raised over $500 million. Not only that, they’ve also raised awareness to the point that governments have spent $87.5 billion of their own money. This is an example of upstart thinking having huge benefits through influencing the most powerful people in the world.
Bono addresses how activism and corporations are viewed as seemingly incongruous but in his mind, it doesn’t have to be that way. He believes that through creative thinking and effort, you can unlock opportunities through cooperating with the business world. He also talks about how businesspeople aren’t inherently selfish or oblivious to problems that need addressing. He brings up billionaire investor Warren Buffett as an example of someone who uses their wealth to help the world. He also talks about how he’s known artists who have been selfish.
For Bono, he believes his roles, be they making music, fighting for positive causes, and investing, to all be equally important in defining who he is. He doesn’t find it necessary to act like he’s wearing a different hat depending on what day it is or what he’s doing. Instead, he brings all of the elements together to help him help the world. He isn’t deluded into thinking that he is some sort of Superman who is bound to save the world. Rather, he acknowledges that taking the first step against a problem can make a huge difference.
It’s important to consider this when thinking about seemingly unconquerable problems. HIV/AIDs might still be a problem, but thanks to the work of Bono and others, we have been able to fight it more and more. All it takes is someone who is willing to speak up. Bono understands his privilege as a world-famous rock icon, but he isn’t satisfied to simply hope for the best for others. Instead, he took drastic action to spread awareness and his work has been noticed on an international level. As Bono works to bring together activism and business, he teaches us an important lesson about how we should always consider as many solutions as possible, and to never reject help when it’s available.