Words from the U2 frontman:
"I’m... a fan of Benjamin Franklin. ...Franklin who wore John Lennon glasses before anybody, before they were cool. Franklin who went electric before Dylan. Franklin who said, ...God grant that not only the love of liberty, but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the Earth so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say “this is my country.” Well, in case you hadn’t heard, I am not a philosopher, I am a rock star, though after a few pints, this rock star starts thinking he’s a philosopher.
So, not a philosopher, but let me set my foot here and say to you tonight this is my country. With humility and pride in my own country, let me say America is my country in the sense that anyone who has a stake in liberty has a stake in the United States of America. For all you’ve been through, good and bad, this is my country too. For every time I wince, or gasp or punch the wall, when I read something that galls, there’s another time I’m reminded of your generosity, your resilience, your innovation, your work ethic, your compassion. Although today, today I read in The Economist an article reporting that over 38 percent of Americans support some kind of torture in exceptional circumstances. My country – NO! Your country – tell me no. (Crowd answers back “no”) Thank you.
Today as you pin this great honor on me, I ask you – I implore you as an Irish man who has seen some of these things close up, I ask you to remember you do not have to become a monster to defeat a monster. Your America is better than that. Your America is the one where Neil Armstrong takes a walk on the Moon because he can. Your America is the one where so many Irish people discovered their value. Your America is the one where a brave military fought and died for freedom in places like Omaha Beach, and in the Pacific, where president number 41 here – a true World War II war hero served. Your America gave Europe the Marshall Plan. Your America gave the world the Peace Corps, JFK, RFK, MLK, the Special Olympics, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen – the bard and the boss – Steve Jobs, local hero Will Smith, the meditations of Mark Rothko, the poetics of Allen Ginsberg, Edward R. Murrow, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Mary J. Blige, Frank Gehry, of thee I sing, all of thee.
Hey, these are the reasons I’m a fan of America – and one more. America is not just a country. It’s an idea, isn’t it? It’s a great and powerful idea. The idea that all men are created equal. That “we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These are great lyrics, Mr. Jefferson. Great opening riff. The Declaration of Independence has a great closing line too – “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Well the men who made that, the men who signed that pledge, had a lot to lose by signing - like their lives. So what then about you and me? What are we ready to pledge? What are we ready to pledge ourselves to? Anything? Anything at all?
What about this idea of liberty? Not liberty for its own sake, but liberty for some larger end – not just freedom from oppression, but freedom of expression and worship. Freedom from want, and freedom from fear because when you are trapped by poverty, you are not free. When trade laws prevent you from selling the food you grow, you are not free. When you are dying of a mosquito bite for lack of a bed net, you are not free. When you are hungry in a world of plenty, you are not free. And when you are a monk in Burma this very week, barred from entering a temple because of your gospel of peace, it is an affront to the thug regime, well then none of us are truly free.
My other country, America, I know you’ll not stand for that. So, look I’m not going to stand here, a rock star who just stepped off a private plane, and tell you to put your lives on the line for people you’ve never met or your fortunes – I haven’t. But our sacred honor might just be at stake here. That and a whole lot else. So what, then, are we willing to pledge? How about our science, your technology, your creativity... America has so many great answers to offer. We can’t fix all the world’s problems. But the ones we can, we must.
Watch it here: Bono accepts the Liberty Medal.
To donate to the ONE campaign, visit www.ONE.org.
Thanks to Will at Clicked for finding this one.
P.S. He also found this video, which is hilarious. Iceland Pulls Out Of Iraq.