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This chapter is from the book

The Paranoid Survive, But the Passionate Prosper

No stranger to controversy, Paul Hewson built two of his passions into dual careers that have brought him fame and a sort of infamy.

First, we have to admit we didn't recognize this Builder when we first met, nor did we know his music or his social activism when we ran into him accidentally in New York. We were standing there talking about our spouses at the World Economic Forum when this sort of short, shaggy Irish-sounding bloke burst into the conversation wearing see-through sunglasses that rock star wannabes often wear. He bragged that he had married his high school sweetheart, Alison "Ali" Stewart, with whom he was still married and had four children.

After a few moments, it was clear that the joke was on us. This was Bono, as Paul Hewson is affectionately known, erupting with infectious enthusiasm and playful banter that would steal the show, even though we were standing there chatting before a press conference he was about to have with Bill Gates. As it turned out, the new millennium's odd couple of philanthropic activism, Gates and Bono, were there to announce their latest HIV initiative.

Three decades ago, Bono saw an ad to form a band that, after the usual artistic fits and starts, eventually boiled down to enormously popular U2. In his music and his social activism, Bono takes on the biggest of issues: love and hate, life and death, power and politics.

Today, he faces criticism about whether his main love, music, and his second passion, social activism, might both be losing their progressive edginess in favor of self-promotion or political correctness in deference to his growing circle of rich, famous, and powerful friends.

"Aren't you sleeping with the enemy?" Some anonymous bystander took a cheap shot as we walked quickly down the hall, late for another meeting. The joust was in reference to Bono's high-profile hobnobbing with the suits, crashing on Bill Gates' couch or holding court with Presidents Bush and Clinton.

Bono ignored the provocation, and then attacked as if we had started the argument.

"Do you really want these ideas to die?" he snapped. "It's an everyday holocaust.7 Twenty-five million Africans who are HIV-positive will leave behind 40 million AIDS orphans by the end of the decade." He stopped for a moment in the hallway. His temperature dropped as he sighed, turning from adversary to recruiter. "It's time we all got a bloody grip on this, don't you think? It's pathetic, gutless really. It doesn't have to be this way. We can do something about this."

Bono, along with his pals, Bill and Melinda Gates, were named Time Magazine's 2005 Persons of the Year for their extraordinary alliance in rallying otherwise adversarial economic and political powers to have an actual impact on global social issues.

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