There’s a nice Op-Ed by U2’s Bono in today’s New York Times. “An America that’s tired of being the world’s policeman, and is too pinched to be the world’s philanthropist, could still be the world’s partner,” he writes.
It’s easy for me to get lost in the smoke of Obama criticism and helpful to have the perspective of someone like Bono who carries a global passport. He highlights a short phrase from Obama’s speech to the United Nations that didn’t get a lot of press coverage in the U.S. but, says Bono, is the reason the rest of the world – including the Nobel committee in Norway – loves this guy. Obama said in his Sept. 23 speech:
“We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.”
Thirty-six words, says Bono, that are the reason the world loves Obama.
I also took comfort in another section of Obama’s speech in which he reminded us that in the 10 months since he took office:
[The United States has ] also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. We have signed the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals. And we address our priorities here, in this institution — for instance, through the Security Council meeting that I will chair tomorrow on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and through the issues that I will discuss today.
In Bono’s Op-Ed, he identifies the “unholy trinity” of our time: extreme poverty, extreme ideology, and extreme climate change. Obama is equipped with the intellect, reason, and vision to understand the complexities of these three and develop strategies for – at least – pulling the “extreme” stinger out of each of them. We may not have all the money we want right now to do this, but we can at least offer up the political and moral will.
Political and moral will doesn’t come from Obama. It comes from us – you and me. So, keep pressing on. Keep leaning forward. Keep telling your president, your Congress, your governor, your mayor, your church committee, your grocery clerk and mail carrier, your neighbor and yourself: Yes, we can/Si, se puede. This is the challenge for OUR times and we need everyone to take up the challenge in her or his own way.