One Campaign, One God, and What War?

Before the Live8 show in Philly, Albert and I went to The One Campaign’s rally and press conference. Here are some of my thoughts of the event and a podcast mp3. It’s an interview with two students from Connecticut. Here’s Alberts blog post about it.

Lots of people from all around the country were there wearing One t-shirts and One stickers. Several NGO partners were in attendance also. First it was a pep-rally to brag about the “success” of the One online and letter writing campaign and then speeches to discuss message. The message that poverty in Africa can end in our lifetime is a noble one. The strategy to achieve this goal is to pressure world politicians to have the will and money to act.

But during the press conference part we had celebrities, a eloquent man from Africa, and three reverends from various Christian churches. Sound like the beginning to a joke? Well it was.

The final speaker, a Christian reverend, led the crowd in prayer. A fine tradition of gathering unity in the crowd duplicated from the civil rights struggle. But when listing singular unity of one, such as one person, one vote, and one voice he included ONE GOD. A man in the audience booed. Another man looked upon this dissent and stared angrily.

Where were representatives from other religions? Lots of people in Africa worship other gods besides this reverends god. Many worship more than one. I found this loud public statement in front of tons of media and a good size crowd to be extremely rude. Why didn’t the staff and leadership of The One Campaign include religious leaders from the Islamic faith, or the Jewish faith, or even from the indigenous religions of Africa?

Another glaring omission of this press conference and the ENTIRE Live 8 event in Philly was the condemnation of war. No one even brought up the war in Iraq, pro or con. It was like we were all in a zone of denial. Not once did I hear about how war causes extreme poverty. Not once did someone express their sadness for all the people who have died needlessly in war. It was if the price we must pay to get war starting leaders to listen to us is to not mention war. We can not pretend war does not exit in the world.

I understand, but do not agree with, the argument that we want to create unity by setting aside our political differences. But when did war become a positive political position? I tell you when. When George W. Bush started peddling fear as reason for war. When he began using the thousands who died in the attacks on 9/11 as reason for more war and death. As Live 8 happened and as I write this post the President is under a lot of pressure for not ending the war in Iraq soon. As each American solider dies more and more Americans wonder why our military stays in Iraq. Does The One Campaign pledge not to discuss the war to get a seat at the table with the leaders of the world? Are they suggesting that if we just ignore the death and suffering that it will go away?

No campaign to end poverty in Africa will succeed with a monotheistic, Eurocentric, blindness to the fact that all war in the world must cease.
Live 8

MP3 2m 48s 1.3MB 64kbps