728x90 DART richIframeInline(S). pagename: bands

  News Main: Headlines
  News Archive
  Movie News
  News Correspondents
  You Tell Us

Bono, Brad Pitt  Launch Campaign  For Third-World  Relief

Visit ONE.org
 and sign the ONE  Declarattion

— by Owen Leimbach

When Brad Pitt addressed a small crowd on Wednesday at a press conference in Los Angeles, he noted that something had been troubling him.

"I've had the luxury to travel around the world for the last 15 years," he said, "and I've seen a real shift in the idea of what America is, how people define America. The [idea] is growing that we are opportunists; we're only there if it serves us. But this is not the complete picture. This is not who we are, and it's certainly not our history."

Every day in Africa HIV/AIDS kills 6,300 people. That's an Indian Ocean Tsunami every two weeks.
Every year Sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region of the world, spends $14.5 billion dollars repaying debts to the world's richest countries and institutions.
With an additional 1% of the US GDP almost 6.5 million children under age 5 could be prevented from dying of diseases that with low-cost measures like vaccination or a well for clean water.

Take Action: Sign the ONE Declarattion

While everyone may not agree on the role opportunism has played in American history, there is little doubt that it has shared the stage throughout with its nemeses, charity and equality. And it's those latter historical characters that Bono and a cadre of other entertainment and political emissaries hope to inspire in young Americans with the One Campaign, Bono's latest brainchild to help citizens of developing countries.

Yes, that's right: another campaign to end world hunger, stop AIDS and rescue the beautiful maiden. Actually ... not quite.

First, it's not just the everyday players that will be getting involved. "This is a chance to get everybody who's interested to work under the same umbrella to create some real political muscle across the different political colors and disciplines," Bono explained. "We have people like [Republican Pennsylvania Senator] Rick Santorum in the same room as people like [former Democratic South Dakota Senator] Tom Daschle. We have [televangelist] Pat Robertson. So it's not just a bunch of wiggy liberals, rock stars, hip-hop people, actors ... this is not the usual suspects. This is different."

And he's not just blowing smoke. Just about every major relief organization — whether federal, faith-based or just plain humanitarian — is on board with the campaign (you can see a full list at one.org.)

Still not convinced? How about this: This campaign is not designed to make you feel guilty for buying a cup of coffee instead of feeding a child in Africa for a day. You can keep your wallet in your pocket and just sign on the dotted line. The idea behind the campaign is that there are enough good organizations and money already out there, it just needs to be channeled in the right direction. That's where you come in. After signing on to the One Campaign, your only duty is to e-mail an occasional letter to a congressman or to show up at a local event. "We want you to become a pest," Bono explains. "Sign here." These activities are calculated to apply pressure to the right folks at the right times.

This strategy has worked for Bono before. During the 2004 election season, he (with a little tip-off from Capitol Hill insiders) took aim at a little-known Iowa congressman named Jim Nussle. At the time, Nussle, chairman of the House Budget Committee, was an important man in the foreign-relief world. He was in the process of filling in the blanks for how much the U.S. would spend to fund international AIDS relief. So a little bit of pressure was applied to let Nussle know that the people he represented were watching and that he shouldn't try to cut corners (or budgets) on that particular issue. It worked. Now it appears Bono's ready to take that strategy up a notch.

So here's a new campaign with an ecumenical and diverse group of luminaries. Good start. Costs nothing. Cool. But perhaps the most compelling reason to get involved is personal, generational and historical.

"This is the beginning of something; we're just figuring it out," Bono admitted. "This is our generation. Others pulled back the Iron Curtain, others tore down apartheid, others abolished slavery, and others fought for civil rights here in the United States. What are we going to do about this journey of equality? I'm going to spend the rest of my life on this."

Check out more of our Features and Interviews

E-Mail this story to a friend

What do you think of this feature? You Tell Us...
Photo: Getty Images

160x600 DART richInline(S). pagename: bands