Twenty-six years ago, this month, Bob Geldof organized, galvanized and revolutionized the music industry in a way that barreled news of famine in Africa into the hearts – and living rooms – of more than a billion people around the globe. LIVE AID was a phenomenal feat of tenacity, ego, determination and compassion. It helped.
But it didn’t solve the problem. In fact, the problem repeats itself.
I woke this morning unsure what I felt like having for breakfast. I checked the pantry. Checked the fridge. Chose an apple, put it back. Chose oatmeal. Changed my mind. Poured a second cup of coffee instead. I showered, put special conditioner in my hair – after all, it should be used weekly for bounce and shine. I picked up my iTouch and checked my email, played a couple rounds of Angry Birds. Then I turned on my laptop to see what was going on locally and around the world, to check new status updates and tweets, to see what the weather will be since we’re supposed to hold a yard sale today – selling our overflow to others willing to part with spare change.
And then I saw this image from The London Evening Post:
Famine has once again claimed the the weakest among us. Children. Babies. Animals. The elderly. Parents cannot provide for their families because they themselves have nothing to give. Severe drought has killed crops and livestock, leaving these people with nothing. And then, to compound the horror, militants prevent aid from reaching them.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this statement about the situation:
Press StatementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCJuly 20, 2011
The United States is deeply concerned by the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa and today’s announcement by the United Nations that a famine is underway in parts of Somalia. The United States is the largest bilateral donor of emergency assistance to the eastern Horn of Africa. We have already responded with over $431 million in food and non-food emergency assistance this year alone.
But it is not enough — the need is only expected to increase and more must be done by the United States and the international community. That is why today the United States government is providing an additional $28 million in aid for people in Somalia and for Somali refugees in Kenya.
The eastern Horn of Africa is prone to chronic food insecurity which has been exacerbated by a two-year drought. Crops have dried up, livestock have died, and food prices have been skyrocketing. In Somalia, twenty years without a central government and the relentless terrorism by al-Shabaab against its own people has turned an already severe situation into a dire one that is only expected to get worse. Even so, we remain cautiously optimistic that al-Shabaab will permit unimpeded international assistance in famine struck areas.
The United States — in close coordination with the international community — is working to assist more than 11 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, who are in dire need of assistance. To anticipate growing needs, the United States government has worked with our partners over the last year to pre-position food in the region, increase funding for early warning systems, and strengthen non-food assistance in the feeding, health, water and sanitation sectors. In addition to emergency assistance, this administration’s Feed the Future program is working to break the cycle of hunger once and for all by addressing the root causes of hunger and food insecurity through innovative agricultural advances.
But the United States cannot solve the crisis in the Horn alone. All donors in the international community must commit to taking additional steps to tackle both immediate assistance needs and strengthen capacity in the region to respond to future crises.
I don’t know how we can help these people and my heart aches because of it. But I know we can be more appreciative – and respectful – for what we have. We have options. Choices. Farmers markets, supermarkets, organic, non-organic. Gluten-free, low sodium, no trans-fats. Food – meat, vegetables, fruit, snacks – by the pound. It’s all much more expensive than it was not too long ago. But it’s there, convenient, safe and plentiful. The least we can do is take only what we need and give to those we know who don’t have.
I’m not trying to preach to anyone. I’m just trying to feel less guilty for having as much as I do while complaining it’s not enough.
Those who know me know I am an avid QUEEN fan – more specifically, I’m a Freddie Mercury fan. Now, what kind of fan would I be if I let today pass without acknowledging what just might have been Queen’s (and Freddie’s) finest moment? Yes, that would be their performance at Live Aid.
Twenty-five years ago today, Queen took the stage as one of many acts to help stave off famine in Africa. To this day, discussions about Live Aid include some reference to the quality of Queen’s performance. I, as a fan, can’t help but do the same. Their set was tight, high-energy and packed with some of their greatest songs. Freddie’s enthusiasm and connection to the crowd was undeniable and his voice, spot on. He wooed the audience and easily managed to have everyone clapping in unique rhythm to Radio Ga-Ga as if they were all there to see Queen and only Queen.
Perhaps they hadn’t arrived as Queen fans, per se, but certainly they left feeling that way.
And so, for your viewing pleasure, I bring you QUEEN at LIVE AID –
My thanks to Astrolux777 for posting this for all of us to enjoy.
On July 13th, 1985, the music world made history with a multi-continental concert aired live on televisions around the world. Famous and beloved musicians from that time entertained us with hours of music in the hope of bringing us together for one vital cause – to end starvation in Ethiopia. A valiant cause, a cause we still need to tend to today.
The musicians were at the top of their game that day and the world was enthralled. The concert, LIVE AID, is still discussed with admiration and nostalgia. Of all the amazing talent on stage that day, one band’s performance has been called “bloody brilliant”, “a one-off”, “the greatest live show of all time”. That band is Queen, with Freddie Mercury’s high energy and enthusiasm leading the way.
Announced to a huge live audience of not-only Queen fans, the band took the stage, with Freddie prancing directly front and center to soak in the adulation. His high-energy performance was amusing, entertaining and inspiring. His wide vocal range, playfulness, and timeless hit songs showed the world just what this man was made of, how deep his drive was and how versatile he could be.
It’s hard to look at his performance from that day and realize the man was dying.
Infected with HIV at a time when HIV and AIDS had not yet revealed their horrible secrets, Freddie Mercury started to wither away. A super-charged musical genius with the determination to go on, recorded songs until just weeks before his death. Between takes, he’d down shots of vodka to dull the unbearable pain. He’d have to rest several times during one song. And soon, at home, this man who energetically covered every inch of stage during every live performance had to be carried up a flight of stairs so he could rest in bed.
On November 23rd, 1991, Freddie announced to the world that rumors were correct. He had AIDS. The next day, well after having made a decision to stop taking medication that merely kept him alive but did not help ease the pain or subdue the devastating disease ravaging his body, Freddie Mercury died of AIDS-related pneumonia.
Seventeen years later, this dreadful disease is still destroying lives. The lives of the famous, the lives of the everyday folk, men, women, and children from all nations, of all religions, of all races are being infected and dying.
Yes. We’ve made advances. But the disease is still active. The disease is still being spread. The disease is still strong enough to fight off all attempts to kill it.
Today is World AIDS Day. A day for the world to join together and face the fact this disease is not going away on it’s own. It’s up to us to raise awareness. It’s up to us to show tolerance. It’s up to us to educate those who are still confused as to how this disease is spread.
In 1985, the year of Live Aid, the very first HIV antibody test became available. Since then, we’ve been able to extend the lives of those living with HIV. Medicine has been able to keep ‘full-blown AIDS’ at bay for many. But, in 1991, the year Freddie Mercury died, 10 million people worldwide were living with HIV. Today, despite all efforts to educate and eradicate, an estimated 33 million people now are living with the disease.
It’s time to stop the madness. It’s time to practice safe-sex. It’s time to talk to your kids. It’s time to get real and face this epidemic head-on.
It’s time to learn more.
It’s time to raise our voices, silence this disease and be proud of the world we created.