There’s always some crisis or other going on either in the world or in our personal lives. The question is: How to deal with that crisis?
by Robert L. Dilenschneider
That question has become more acute because we’ve never been in an era when the world, the country, business sectors, families, and social institutions have been more challenged than they are today. We may be living in one of the most uncertain periods in history. The ability to survive in a gravely problematic time is critical.
Events are going to unfold out there that we do not expect nor can we anticipate. Many political and business leaders, among others, assert that perhaps the greatest looming challenge is the rift between the Muslim world and the West. I disagree. That is certainly a dangerous development, but the bigger challenge is the growing chasm between the haves and the have-nots.
The World Bank estimates that nearly 2 billion of the world’s 6 billion-plus people now live on the equivalent of less than a dollar a day. Meanwhile, Wall Street is paying out annual bonuses of $40 to $50 million to some CEOs. A trader I know took home $100 million in 2006. We are going to have to find meaningful ways to eliminate such huge disparities and global poverty in our lifetime. That means finding opportunity in a genuine and very serious crisis.
The singer Bono found just such an opportunity. As the lead singer of the rock band U2, Bono has all the money and adulation he could possibly want. He decided that global poverty is too overwhelming to take on all at once, and so he began to focus on Africa, the poorest continent. He persuaded Paul O’Neal, the Alcoa CEO who was then President George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, to accompany him to Africa.
That trip generated a lot of publicity, as Bono knew it would. He knew that there was an opportunity to get positive action by drawing attention to Africa’s humanitarian crisis. Sure enough, many of the wealthy nations of the world soon pledged to increase investment, developmental aid, and technical assistance.
Africa’s problems, of course, are so enormous that it will take many decades for the people to attain prosperity, but instead of joining the global chorus of despair, Bono spotted an opportunity for engendering change in Africa and acted on it. He made videos that could be downloaded easily on personal computers; he cut records; he made podcasts. Bono employed all the tools that modern technology offers to a determined celebrity with a cause.