Monday 20 May 2019

Bono makes impassioned plea to Germans to understand value of EU

U2 frontman Bono. Photo: Bloomberg
U2 frontman Bono. Photo: Bloomberg
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

U2 frontman Bono has made an impassioned plea to Germans to understand the value of the EU at time when "the word patriotism been stolen from us by nationalists and extremists".

The rock band plans to kick off its tour in Berlin this week with what he is calling "one of our more provocative ideas: during the show we’re going to wave a big, bright, blue EU flag".

Ahead of the concert Bono has written a piece for one of Germany’s biggest newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he seeks support for Ireland place in a post-Brexit Europe.

"Ireland is a place with a special emotional connection to Europe, and the idea of it. Maybe it’s because Ireland is a tiny rock in a big sea, eager to be part of something larger than ourselves (for most things are larger than ourselves). Maybe it’s because we used to feel closer to Europe than we did to some of the people on our island," he wrote.

"Belonging to Europe enabled us to become a better, more confident version of ourselves. We stand a bit taller among friends. Also, the closer the north and the south of Ireland got to Europe, the closer we got to each other. Propinquity crossed the border and brought the barriers down.

"For sore historical reasons, we do not take sovereignty lightly. If the definition of sovereignty is the power of a country to govern itself, Ireland saw that working with other nations gave us a greater power than we could wield on our own, and a greater agency over our own fate."

The Dubliners says that Europe is a "hard sell" nowadays event though there has never been a better place to born during the last 50 years.

"Though we have to work a lot harder to spread the benefits of prosperity, Europeans are better educated, better shielded from abuses by big corporations, and leading better, longer, healthier, and flat-out happier lives than people in any other region of the world. Yes, happier," he says.

Bono claims that a rock band is “at its best” when it pushes the bounds of so-called good taste.

“I’m guessing that even to a rock audience, waving an EU flag these days is either an annoyance, a bore, a kitsch reference to the Eurovision Song Contest but to some of us it has become a radical act,” he wrote.

“Europe, which for a long time triggered a yawn, today sparks a kitchen-table screaming match. Europe is the theatre of powerful, emotional, clashing forces that will shape our future. I say our future, because there is no way to deny that we are all in this boat together, in seas churned up by extreme weather and extremist politics.”

He concludes by saying all that Europe has achieved is “under threat”.

“As my countryman John Hume has said: ‘All conflict is about difference, whether the difference is race, religion or nationality. The European visionaries decided that difference is not a threat…Difference is of the essence of humanity,’ and should be respected, celebrated, and even cultivated.’”

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