|Letter 1: May 12, 2003
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SUBJ: U2 Fans Ask You to Help Save a Continent and Free a World
Takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh
It takes a second to say goodbye
Say goodbye, oh, oh, oh, say bye bye
Where you going to now...
Lightning flashes across the sky
East to west, do or die
Like a thief in the night
See the world by candlelight...
Say goodbye, say goodbye...
The lyrics of the song "Seconds" were written by U2 singer/activist
Bono as a comment on nuclear war.
But the message can be applied to any human crisis of mammoth dimensions,
and the AIDS pandemic, on which Bono himself is so outspoken, is indeed
such a crisis. I have heard it said by AIDS activists, that the AIDS pandemic
has not even yet peaked. By the time it does, there will not be a person
on the planet who does not have AIDS or who is not otherwise impacted by
deaths of peoples from AIDS.
And as Bono says, here we sit trying put out this holocaust with watering
You will be considering legislation in the coming weeks to provide this
year's funding for the AIDS crisis. The house has already passed relatively
decent, unencumbered legislation, with the figure requested in the White
House budget of $200 million. Nevertheless, this is a
"drop in the bucket."
We've already spent more than that prosecuting a pre-emptive war for
questionable reasons, and we have billions more to go in Iraq, and yet
it seems to me that the AIDS crisis - especially the crisis in the less
developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa - is at least as deserving of my
tax money. If we spent even a quarter of what we spend on the Department
of Defense on fighting poverty, famine, and disease around the world, people
would no longer NEED to BELIEVE in terrorism and genocide because people
would no longer be OPPRESSED.
This is why foreign aid is imperative. Not because we are a kind and
good nation offering charity, but because it serves the interests of our
national security in the LONG term. Unfortunately all too many politicians
are uninterested in anything more long term than the next election. Which
leaves our children fighting wars such as our current "war on terrorism."
Is that the legacy you wish to leave?
So I strongly encourage you to up the ante, and then work it out in
conference. Furthermore, please do not tack on amendments that limit the
use of this money with regard to birth control or other moral encumbrances.
Asking for accountability is appropriate. In fact, encourage those who
would receive the funding to establish Cooperative Agreements, where the
use of the money can be tracked more closely than it can with Grants. But
with regard to moral issues, our culture is different from the cultures
of the developing nations being scoured by AIDS, and it is atrociously
inappropriate for our country to try to attach "conditions" on which the
money may be granted that include moral imperatives based on our own culture.
It is simply not our place to interfere in the moral and cultural beliefs
of other nations.
The entertainment franchise *Star Trek* has a rule about non-interference
in cultural matters called "the Prime Directive." The sooner the United
States develops its own Prime Directive, the better the world will be.
And the sooner we start spending less money on guns and more money on
the fundamental needs of people (housing, food, water, health care
education), the better the world will be.
I urge you to consider these issues as you consider the AIDs legislation
before you. This letter is part of a letter-writing campaign organized
by fans of the band U2 who agree with the humanitarian words and deeds
of the band, especially with regard to Bono's quest to improve conditions