Last weekend at Peace One Day, I was fighting between my inner cynic (who shows herself more often than I'd like) and my inner peace-loving optimist (see photo on the right).
In the midst of all the lights, glamour and drunken French fans,
I did a lot of thinking during this concert. And I admit that at first I was a bit put off by the whole event.
It was also interesting watching this concert in France, with a mostly Francophone audience. I had to cringe slightly when Youssou N'Dour led the crowd in a call and repeat session of chanting "Africa" during each chorus. Haven't they like, still not formally apologized for that whole Algeria debacle? And racism towards North African immigrants (and even 2nd and 3rd generation French citizens of North African decent) remains a massive issue in this country. Something about the whole situation just didn't sit well with me.
Wired.com ran an interesting piece back in 2008, about Bono and his work in Africa, analyzing the role of celebrity in charitable causes. Basically the article breaks up celebrities into two groups: those who actually care, and those who are just doing it to get some good PR.
Washington lobbyist Tom Sheridan of The Sheridan Group was asked to show Bono the ins and outs of Capitol Hill.
The article quotes Sheridan as explaining the following about celebrity involvement in social and political issues:
However, the article also points out that if a celebrity is honestly committed to the cause and advocating effective programs, their start power can actually have an impact on voters and policy makers in Washington.
To summarize: When Lindsay Lohan decides to open a school for young recovering drug addicts, visit flood victims in Pakistan and meet with Nelson Mandela, it's about as sincere as her fourth stint in rehab. But if it looks like a celebrity has been truly devoted to a cause over the course of his or her career, during both Oscar winning years and those spent at Promises, it's probably the real deal
As the evening wore on, the ice queen inside me slowly began to melt away. I learned that Jude Law and Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley actually went to Afghanistan and were able to get both sides to agree to a 24-hour cease fire. Jude Law has also taken the time to speak to UNICEF about the cause, and it's clear that Gilley has devoted well over a decade of his time, his money and essentially his soul to this important issue of global peace.
So overall, I decided that while some of the performers and dramatic film voice-overs seemed a bit cheesy (although it could have just been Gilley's extremely posh English accent), this is obviously an important cause that everyone should support. And if it ultimately succeeds in its goal to institutionalize peace, the results could save millions and millions of lives around the world.
To learn more about Peace One Day, check out the video below: