Bono won Woman of the Year at the Glamour Awards in the USA. He was awarded it for his work on the Poverty Is Sexist campaign. In his speech he suggested how ludicrous that it was that he should win and even read some Tweets that remind him of the fact.
I have always spoken about the importance of Bono’s wife Ali to his life and it seems that was never more correct than in this award. In his speech Bono also talks about his daughters contribution to his thinking and campaigning on poverty, justice and gender issues.
One illustration Bono uses in his speech is another revelation of Ali’s deep impact and influence on him. It is also another of those moments where Bono slips something into an interview that drops deep and starts ripples and waves in my thinking.
Bono shares how it was exactly 40 years to the week that he had his first date with Ali and joined U2. He then shared how from the beginning of their relationship Ali told him how to act. She told him not to look down on her. She then told him not to look up to her. “Look across at me. I am here,” she said.
How profound! Bono goes on to suggest that we need to seek out those that we feel most opposed to and see them as just across from us. He cites Donald Trump as that person for him. There’s a love your enemy intention at this part of his speech.
I, of course, could not help but bring the idea home to Northern Ireland. As we go into another election that many have feared will be bitter and brutal, we need to encourage our politicians to not look down on each other… or up at each other… but to look across at each other.
Looking across at someone has them on a level footing. We recognise that they are equally important to us. They share in our common humanity. We treat them with the respect of equals. That changes how we listen to them, how we speak to them and how much value we put on their opinion, alongside ours.
If our politicians looked across at one another how different would be the tone of the up and coming election. How different would be their engagement when some of them are elected into our Local Assembly.
Northern Ireland has been a country where there has been too much looking down on, or the forcing of others to look up. Let us start looking across.
I think this is what Jesus meant when he told the Pharisees that the first would be last and the last would be first. Jesus incarnation was God becoming human so that we could look across at him. A lot of the key to The Kingdom of God is about looking across at neighbour, enemy, homeless, prisoner, sick, hungry, stranger, refugee.
Let’s do it!