“Look up in the sky…”
“It’s a bird…”
“It’s a plane…”
“No, it’s a rock star in a private jet!”
The above, almost superhero like treatment, begins to reflect some of the high esteem rock stars in the mid 1980’s were held in by the public.
Bob Geldof really started the ball rolling with the Band Aid song “Do They Know It’s Christmas-time” when the proceeds of said record went to aid starving people in Ethiopia. This was followed up by Live Aid – simultaneous concerts held around the world for the same cause of Ethiopia.
Geldof was inspired to help Ethiopia because of some footage on the plight of that country broadcast by the BBC. He got the message out and the help of all the musicians considerably lessened the suffering in Ethiopia during that famine. This was the first big use of the ‘rock star early warning system’ we have gotten to know over the years.
‘Rock star early warning systems’ have also helped out in Live 8 and with other celebrities in the recent Haitian earthquake and the Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami.
I’m sorry to say that my belief that there was a ‘rock star early warning system’ made me complacent. I thought others would alert me if something like starvation was happening on the earth somewhere. I was wrong.
I thought that the Geldofs of this world had made it impossible for famine to kill people. The way the Ethiopian crisis was diverted. Not so. I’m sorry to find that I’m way late to the game. I found out from this recent article that there was a famine in Malawi in 2002 that killed thousands.
What did the developed world do to avert this? Precious little. In fact, from the article linked, an arm of the developed world might have caused it. What did rock stars do? Well in 2006 and 2009 Madonna adopted Malawi children.
Maybe it was the genocides of the 1990s that hardened our hearts. The world seemed very less friendly and perhaps we steeled ourselves for bad things to happen, instead of working to divert them.
I think we can bring back the gains we had made in the eighties and make sure there are no more killer famines. Maybe we won’t have the novelty of the eighties going for it but many rock stars live more than comfortably in this world. They can at least try to be that early warning system that so many of us desire. I know I’ll listen and I bet I’m not so different than many other people. I want a working rock star early warning system.
I know some of you are thinking that I should just follow the news to keep at or further ahead than these rock stars. But I thought I was keeping abreast of things in 2002. I didn’t hear the Malawi story in my regular news. And now there’s less “normal” journalism. I believe blogs are trying to replace what has disappeared but it’s hard to keep abreast of all blogs everywhere. Maybe the ‘rock star early warning system’ can shine light in the right places. I think this type of charity should begin with famine – the world doesn’t have low crop yields everywhere at the same time – i.e. we can and should heal that first – it’s just supply routing which can be cured by money.
And if you’re worried about Haiti’s earthquake still, here’s Wavin’ Flag and here’s We Are the World 25. Links can be found for donation. They aren’t original hits but effort was put in. Although the Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident is more recent, Japan is a developed country and has it’s own stars to collect and a government and corporations in a position to reinvest in stricken areas.
And there’s me and you who can point out the important. Tweeting, blogging and other electronic means are becoming important. Look how fast the uprisings in the Arab world came about and spread across many borders. Still artists know how to play on emotions. Or perhaps I’m still stuck in the mid eighties with my idea of a rock star early warning system.