Pro Bono, or Con?

Bono on AND
Paul David Hewson KBE, known by his stage name Bono, is an Irish singer, musician, venture capitalist, businessman and activist best known for being the main vocalist and lyricist of the Dublin-based rock band U2. | Photo: | Bono, U2, Singer, Songwriter, Activist, Red, Ireland, Glasses, Hunger,

Portrait of the Artist as a 'fund' man

Pro bono publico--it's as old as Rome, hence the Latin. But, does this word for 'good' in a dead language best describe this man when applied to a rock star? (Okay, I get it, it's 'bono vox', good voice, applied to him as an artist, but does this make him a sincere front man for the 'vox populi'?)

Bob Dylan, in his 'Chronicles I', calls Bono a 'closet philosopher' who praised a batch of unrecorded lyrics to some Dylan songs then without even a basic melody; Dylan wasn't sure he was sincere, case of Guiness or no.

The proof, however circumstantial, is in the 'gooding', and its 'whys'.

First, let's examine the relevant actions (if any) of his peers.

Springsteen, a stand-up guy, politically courageous (see: Obama 2012); largely domestic charitable work (albeit, the Obama work can be seen as a boon to the world on several levels).

Jagger, busy buying artwork, living like the Knight of the Realm he gladly is; let's just say he's a grad of the London School of Economics, enough said. Could be a late-bloomer, as his dad is 97, we'll see, if we live so long, as he did do a free gig for Sandy the hurricane, and gave W. the bird on SNL.

Bon Jovi--pass, guess that missing 'o' means much; strictly Garden State, more or less, as far as we can tell.

McCartney, still busy song-writing, albeit sans his greatest edge, Mr. Lennon who, despite his absence for the worst reason possible, maintains his claim to the greatest anthems for the ideals Bono espouses.

Stevie Wonder, who does live up to his name, and, despite his lack of technical vision is a nonpareil visionary, close to what Bono's doing.

Realizing many more may be listed, I must bow to my Editor whose love of space and time is rivaled only by Einstein.

So, here're my factual criteria, in question form, it is up to you to provide the well-considered answers:
1. He openly praised a man whose abilities are at best low average: George W. Bush; perhaps that praise was, itself, an act of charity per se, aimed at results for Africa and its HIV+/AIDS epidemic. Was this mercenary or for the greater good?

2. He happily interviewed with 'Focus on the Family', a notoriously anti-gay, anti-choice far religious right propaganda tool; in that exchange, he volunteered his belief in Jesus's god-like parentage, however, cautioning against anything but good-hearted tolerance for those who don't so believe. See the transcript at 'Religious News Service', to be fair and complete. That said, and perhaps done, does this politicize or otherwise detract from his actions, or is he simply holding potential philosophical 'enemies' close?

3. He's Managing Director & Co-Founder of Elevation Partners; while it's been dubbed the worst investment firm in America, he/it did invest in Facebook, Yelp!, DropBox, and Forbes (yes, Steve's magazine thingy, you know, the failed GOP Presidential candidate some years ago). Does this make him selfish or forward-thinking, even self-funding?

4. He and/or U-2 are generally regarded as tax avoiders--aren't we all if/when we may legally be? Besides, maybe he's leveraging his money saved either directly or indirectly for good; unlike certain other prominent figures of late, we don't have to see his tax returns to know something about his heart. What do you think, a necessary means to a better end?

So, then, one more query: do you believe him when he croons 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for'? Can any of us truly say 'yes' definitively, and for all time? I say keep searching, like Bono, and don't forget your heart, in this brain-centered world, a world of 'reason'--look around, where has that gotten us without that heart's advice? It's probably the difference between 'only human' and 'only humane'.

Pro bono publico (and privately), be more humane.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:08 PM EDT | More details


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