Mohsen & Bono
Could they work together for a better world?
By Moji Agha
June 26, 2001
Very late last night I finally had time to read the wonderful article
by Mohsen Makhmalbaf about the Afghan tragedy ["Limbs
of no body"]. I could not fall sleep afterwards. I don't know what
to say or what to do -- the least I can do is to urge everyone to spend
the time and read the entire article. I share Mr. Makhmalbaf's helplessness
in this situation and I also share his idealism.
In the absence of any words to add to Makhmalbaf's eloquent testimony,
I want to simply report what I heard on TV yesterday. Bono, the lead singer
of the artistic and politically-aware Irish rock group U2, was being interviewed
by Charlie Rose on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Bono said many astonishing things related to two of the issues he is
currently involved with: The global AIDS pandemic (centered mostly in sub-Saharan
Africa, for now), and the Third World debt cancellation issue. He said
to his mainly American audience that for every ONE dollar that the poorest
nations of our fragile planet receive in U.S. foreign aid, they pay out
NINE dollars in repayment of just the INTEREST of their debt to the financial
institutions of the richest countries in our greedy globe.
Bono displayed his deep commitment to reduce suffering by saying: "We
fall sleep in our freedom... there is a void [in our hearts] in it there
is indifference... all an artist can do is to describe [reality.]"
I think that as another conscientious artist, Makhmalbaf is echoing Bono
when he reflects on the depth of the tragedy of Afghanistan. I somehow hope
that the two of them can somehow work together. I am certainly willing to
do what I can to help make this possible or at least help bridge their languages
and cultures, because their artistic hearts seem not to need any bridging.
Does anyone out there know the best way to contact Bono and/or U2's agent?
If you do, please let me know.
Among the many moving things Makhmalbaf says in his eye-opening article
is the following passage (please note that I am not in any way rationalizing
or justifying the destruction of the statue of Budha by the Taliban):
"The only one whose heart had not turned to stone yet, was the Buddha
statue of Bamian. With all his grandeur, he felt humiliated by the enormity
of this tragedy and broke down. Buddha's state of needlessness and calmness
became ashamed before a nation in need of bread and it fell. Buddha shattered
to inform the world of all this poverty, ignorance, oppression and mortality.
But negligent humanity only heard about the demolition of the Buddha statue."
Assuming that we are also ''awake", the question for us ordinary
mortals soon turns to: "What are we to do?" I say, before jumping
to DO anything, let us first go deep deep down to our hearts and pay Buddha-like
attention to the mixture of jewel and garbage that we will invariably find.
Moji Agha is a Visiting Scholar in the Center For Middle Eastern Studies
at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He teaches courses in cultural studies,
conflict resolution, and cross-cultural psychology. He recently founded
a non-profit center for inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue.