The Gates commitment acts as a catalyst. They needed the drug companies to come on board, and the major health agencies, the churches, the universities and a whole generation of politicians who were raised to believe that foreign aid was about as politically sexy as postal reform. And that is where Bono’s campaign comes in. He goes to churches and talks of Christ and the lepers, citing exactly how many passages of Scripture (“2,103”) deal with taking care of the poor; he sits in a corporate boardroom and talks about the role of aid in reviving the U.S. brand. He gets Pat Robertson and Susan Sarandon to do a commercial together for his ONE campaign to “Make Poverty History.” Then he heads to Washington, where he stops by a meeting of House Democrats to nuzzle them about debt relief before a private lunch with President George W. Bush, whom he praises for tripling aid to Africa over the past four years. Everyone from Republican Senator Rick Santorum to Hillary Clinton used Bono’s October concert as a fund raiser. “He knows how to get people to follow him,” Stonesifer says. “We are probably a good complement. We’re more likely to give you four facts about the disease than four ways that you can go do something about it.”
When I read the article linked above from Time magazine, I initially was resistant to feeling very charitable to the ultra-rich (knowing that “Bono spends several thousand dollars at a restaurant for a nice Pinot Noir, and Bill Gates, the great predator of the Internet age, has a trampoline room in his $100 million house.” But I have to say that after reading the article, while still feeling a tremendous amount of scepticism over the personal lifestyles of these folks (I don’t care how rich you are, some things just aren’t cool), I do have a tremendous amount of respect for what these folks are doing, but particularly with the move to appeal to Evangelical Christians to heed the teachings of Jesus Christ when it comes to poverty. Given the majority status of evangelicals in much of America today, this is absolutely critical to the good that needs to be done, and I am tickled pink to see folks like the Gates family and Bono work in this way.