Well, I've had a big surprise over the last week. Since I posted on Clay Aiken thousands of Clay followers have stopped by and read the post. I was happy to find the entry linked to at least half-a-dozen very popular Clay sites. But even more surprising is the admiration I've gained for you folks who follow him not because it's the popular thing to do (or because he has been on American Idol) but because he certainly has some key values and principles, as is evidenced by his work in developing countries with UNICEF. While I really didn't know much about Clay, through some further reading and through your comments I have also gained a strong appreciation for his work.
Bono has had a heart for social justice since U2's first album almost 30 years ago. Even back then he was speaking out against the "killing fields" of Cambodia (Kampuchea). He has been working quietly in Africa for two decades. Just a week ago, Richard Stearn, president of World Vision (a premier agency working for the elimination of poverty), referred to Bono's work in an interview:
Question: Do the efforts of rock stars and movie stars really help alleviate poverty and AIDS or are these people just seeking more publicity to sell albums?
Answer: They make a difference. Given the number of celebrities in our world it is actually shocking that so few of them are using their celebrity to make a difference. Bono is amazing. He has perhaps done more for the poor than anyone in the last century. I call him "Martin Luther Bono" because he has really been the leader of our movement. (Thanks to Beth Maynard at U2 Sermons for the link)
My hope is that Clay will have that kind of influence and longevity.
It seems like Bono and Clay share several common ideals:
- a commitment to global issues
- life-long learning, especially a desire to understand underlying causes and issues
- an understanding that money will not solve the problems of the poor
- a cultural sensitivity to what is and what isn't appropriate in a foreign country
- the ability to use their celebrity status to raise awareness not just increase donations
To my knowledge, Bono and Clay have never collaborated or interacted with one another. Anyone know different? Peace to the Clay contingent!