Amnesty International and U2 Fans

Eric Shivvers Chicago :

When U2 played here in Chicago two nights ago, I was asked to take some pictures of the show and I did. Yeah, I have a great shot of Larry playing his djembe and a couple of the Edge, both of which will make great mementos but as I stood against the rail behind the stage taking in the show, I turned around and observed a group of One campaigners and Amnesty International volunteers lining up to go onstage.  I thought to myself, if Bono Edge, Adam and Larry are the generals of philanthropy and we are the army of followers, then these are the lieutenants. Night in and night out on this tour, local volunteers give up their time to sign up us fans for these causes. Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry know that we are a community of good-hearted people, willing to join a cause they promote. 

As stage crew handed out the props that these good Samaratins were going to walk with onstage, I knew this would be the one photograph that no one else would take. The smiling happy volunteers were excited to go onstage, even if it was just to stand for five minutes or so, representing their great organizations. It didn’t matter that they weren’t going to play along with Edge or sing with Bono. What they were doing was more important. They were speaking to us in silence for those who don’t have a voice. The people they represent are the AIDS patient waiting to die in a hospital in Central Africa or a political prisoner such as Aung San Suu Kyi. Both of whom need these organizations to set justice straight.

I thought it was a little camp the first time I witnessed this on the 360 tour, but after seeing their smiling faces in these pictures, I have greater respect for this spectacle during the show. U2 keeps teaching me something new about the world every time they go out on the road. With these volunteers and our passion for the band, we have made a difference. Aung San Suu Kyi was finally freed from house arrest and 4 million lives were saved from AIDS with anti-retroviral drugs. These two accomplishments came from rock stars that didn’t have to take up these causes, but they did and they made a believer out of me when I joined their army 25+ years ago.   

In closing, these pictures will never grace the entertainment section of the Chicago Tribune, but the opportunity to represent their cause for five minutes onstage will last a lifetime. They will tell their friends and family about standing shoulder to shoulder with U2 on a hot July night in 2011. There may be no photographs of witness to their triumph but that’s okay. They are volunteers who will slip back into their day-today world unrecognized as the rockers they shared the stage with, but recognized, through their passion, as the keepers of the flame, telling us that we can change the world one U2 fan at a time.

 

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