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Mohsen & Bono
Could they work together for a better world?

By Moji Agha
June 26, 2001
The Iranian

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.

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Limbs of no body
World's indifference to the Afghan tragedy
By Mohsen Makhmalbaf

By Moji Agha

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