BEVERLY HILLS — Bono and Brad Pitt brought their star power to the kickoff of the One Campaign on Wednesday, calling on people to come together to fight the global crises of AIDS, hunger and poverty.
Explaining that "it's not a cause, it's an emergency," Bono said thousands of people die every day in Africa from preventable causes. He called upon the young people of today to make the fight for third-world relief their generation's movement, much like the youth of the 1960s fought for civil rights in America.
Pitt playfully blamed Bono for getting him involved in the effort, saying, "I couldn't get away from him. It has certainly changed, I guess, my mission, but it changed my life in a way, and I do thank him very much for that and respect him for that."
But quickly Pitt became more serious, recalling a recent trip to Africa where he met people dying of AIDS and related illnesses who had no medication. His dedication to the One Campaign is personal, he said, explaining, "I've been there. I've seen it. To turn my back on it would make me culpable."
The campaign isn't seeking individual donations, but rather wants people to visit One.org and sign a declaration that calls for directing more resources to the basic needs of the world's poorest countries. Ultimately, the One Campaign seeks to foster enough support for the movement that the United States donates an additional 1 percent of its annual budget — or $25 billion — to such causes.
Bono said he felt like this type of activism is perfect for the MTV audience, since "they like to make a nuisance of themselves. We music people, you know, we like to make a little mischief. And this is stirring it up for some good reasons."
He explained that after you register your name and e-mail address, you may be called on to do things like send e-mails to senators and representatives explaining the importance of getting food and medicine to the most impoverished places. Bono said if politicians become inundated by these e-mails, changes will be made.
"Everybody wants to change the world, not just rock stars," he said. "And everybody can, we just gotta get organized. This for even younger people, 12 or 13, this is like voting in a funny way. It's like getting in early. You can have some influence with the powers that be."
Bono and Pitt were joined at Wednesday's press conference by actor Djimon Hounsou and former MPAA president and CEO Jack Valenti, who is currently the chairman of Friends of the Global Fight, an organization that works to mobilize private American engagement and sustained public leadership in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
To find out more about the campaign, visit One.org. Also check out MTV at 8:59 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday for the world premiere of a star-studded public service announcement from the One Campaign.