The Wisdom Of Bono

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Post written by Bono & Peter G. James Sinclair.

Bono – U2 front man and self-proclaimed celebrity statesman who was born Paul David Hewson on May 10, 1960.

Whether or not this man and his impact holds cultural significance to you will most likely depend upon your own age and your tolerance for overly talkative, and occasionally pompous rock stars.

But let’s give the leather-clad, sunglasses-loving lead singer of U2 his due. Compared to most rock stars, he’s a model world citizen. Instead of living a life consumed by the excesses of sex, booze and drugs, he keeps busy writing, performing and leading international relief efforts. And he’s been married to the same woman for decades.

There may just be some wisdom that we can drink from such a life.

Here are just 20 quotes from the man with some accompanying comment from myself – a small taste from which you can drink deeply…

1. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building.

As a Christian, and as both Bono and I are about the same age, I agree with what he shares. I have seen more of the miraculous occur these past 5 decades outside the walls of religion more than from within. It’s no wonder that Jesus performed most of his miracles in the marketplace and very occasionally within the synagogue.

Many have become disillusioned with the religious structures that I have been part of for more than five decades, no matter how contemporary the presentation. It’s interesting that in a recent Times article it was reported ‘that the number of people who say they have no religious affiliation – called ‘nones’ by some – has more than doubled in the U.S. since 1990, to 16% of the population.’ It adds that, ‘for most, they’re not rejecting God. They’re rejecting organized religion as being rigid and dogmatic.’

2. I’m not in a position to be seen as a spokesman for a generation. I mean, how can you be a spokesman of a generation if you’ve nothing to say, other than ‘Help!’

None of us have THE answer. We can only point people in the ‘right’ direction. We all need help and it is only as we listen to each other that we can learn more. Rather than being a spokesman for a generation I would rather be known as a listener for a generation.

3. To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal. If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel.

A gentle pat on the shoulder. A kind word. A prayer uttered. It really doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to bring joy to another’s life. Money is not always the solution. There are so many things that we can do that are free. Freely give. Freely receive.

4. To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.

I will never understand why you do what you do or why you say what you say. I can only seek to understand, and if for any reason I fail to comprehend, then I am instructed to love you for whom you are. Let us unite in love for one another.

5. Even though I’m a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers. They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back.

I have witnessed this time and time again. In a place where one should feel safe is the very place where one is betrayed. Let’s face it – if you want to join a church that is perfect, don’t join because you will bring imperfection into the mix. I think that’s why Jesus said that we were to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Enter into any relationship with your eyes wide open. Forgiveness, and the willingness and ability to forgive, will protect you from all harm.

6. There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.

I cannot stop creating. I laugh silently whenever I come across people of my present vintage who are mapping out the path of their life towards retirement. I can’t understand that type of mentality. The other day my wife met a multi-millionaire who earns $1,000,000 a day and gives it all away to charity. He is 88. He owns a gold mine and has no thoughts of retirement. That’s my type of man.

7. Great music is written by people who are either running toward or away from God.

The music that is within you – the pulsating beat of creativity and passionate expression – will be expressed because of these two things. Which way are you running?

8. At a certain point, I just felt, you know, God is not looking for alms, God is looking for action.

Words produce nothing unless backed up by action. Action creates magnificence. It cures fear. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. If you see the need then fill it.

9. It’s not enough to rage against the lie…you’ve got to replace it with the truth.

Truth stands. What is truth? The opposite of a lie.

How many people throughout the 20th century thought that smoking was a cool and socially acceptable thing to do? How many people bought the lie? Even doctors promoted it as a good thing. Only when the truth was revealed and lives were being decimated by the bad habit of smoking that all was revealed.

10. Overcoming my dad telling me that I could never amount to anything is what has made me the megalomaniac that you see today.

Sometimes we need someone to position us so that we say ‘eat my dust’. I love it when people tell me I can’t and that I won’t. It makes me even more determined to prove them wrong. Don’t be put down by the naysayers. Use them as fuel to ignite your inner passion to become all that you were created to become.

11. The less you know, the more you believe.

On the flipside of this statement – the more I believe the more I realise that I know very little. This is where faith has to kick in.

For just one moment pause and consider nature. Watch a wave crash on the shore. Observe a bird in flight. Some big bang could never, no matter how smart scientists tell us that they are, have produced such majesty.

12. I want to run. I want to hide. I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside. I want to reach out and touch the plains, where the streets have no names.

Life is a process of discovery, and some of the greatest battles that you and I will ever fight are the ones that are fought in the battlefields of our minds. Get a dream and a vision for your life. Set a goal. With those in your hands your greatness will be drawn out from the very innermost parts of your being.

13. Books! I dunno if I ever told you this, but books are the greatest gift one person can give another.

Books changed my life. I started my journey in the basement of a library with books that helped me to understand my past, gave me a reason to appreciate my present and assisted me in defining my future. Don’t just read any books. Read books that challenge you. Read about great people who have lived. Read what great people have written. Make reading a daily habit. It is an investment in your future that will pay rich dividends.

14. My heroes are the ones who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them.

It is the stories of failure and overcoming failure that have always inspired me. We don’t need invincible superheroes. We need those who have vulnerability as part of their makeup. Even Superman had to deal with kryptonite and Achilles had a heel.

15. And this wise man asked me to stop. He said, Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing -because it’s already blessed.

None of us can force the hand of God. Look around and see where good is being done and get involved. But do not have any preconceived ideas, for God is full of surprises and works in mysterious ways.

16. As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It’s so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don’t use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I’m the worst example of it, so just kinda keep my mouth shut.

Labels? Yes. Once we use a label people immediately put us into their personal interpretative cataloguing system. To be a Christian is not to claim perfection. We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness. We are broken pots – all of us. Point my finger at you and I have three pointing straight back at me.

17. If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there’s a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in straw poverty i.e. the story of Christ makes sense to me.

Logical. Love. Creator. This is so refreshing to hear this from the great Bono.

18. We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.

I had a business coach once who said that ‘we get what we ask for’. If we ask the wrong questions we will get the wrong answers. We need to first discover what right questions we should ask if we ever want to receive correct answers. Makes sense to me. This is wisdom.

 19. Yes, I sometimes fail, but at least I’m willing to experiment.

You will never experience the best that life has to offer if you stay on the shore. I have always, as an entrepreneur, had to launch out into the deep. Once I learnt to swim, I then discovered that I could hire a sailboat. Now I have worked out how to attach a motor to the back of my boat and presently am seeking out the purchase of an ocean-going liner. But it first began by getting my feet wet.

20. You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that as you reap, so you will sow stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Grace. Yes. I don’t understand it, but I have experienced it – personally.

When my frozen shoulder was miraculously healed as I lay in my bed one morning dreaming a dream that was as vivid and memorable as if I was actually there at the time, I came in direct contact with grace.

There was no scientific reason for what had just happened. All I knew was that after the dream, and as I woke and jumped out of my bed, I could move my previously immobile arm without any restriction whatsoever after many months of excruciating pain – totally free from any further discomfort.

I knew, and even to this day I know, for a fact that grace had entered my room and that I was deeply loved.

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