By Olivia Harris, Senior, Shaler Area High School
The Boomtown Rats – a British new wave band in the early 1980’s that was headed by the talented musician and orator, Bob Geldof, has gained a new meaning in Pittsburgh.
The delegates at the One Young World Summit were addressed by Geldof on Thursday night at Heinz Hall, where his realistic attitude and dry sense of humor handed over the power of change to the younger generation.
Geldof has been a musician forever dedicated to change. In his 1984 song “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, he advocated for aid for famine in Ethiopia. Reactions to Geldof’s hit song, recorded with Band Aid, spread immediately all over the world, including “USA for Africa”, led by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and Bruce Springsteen. Ultimately, Bob Geldof’s efforts encouraged Live AID, a global concert in 1985 to raise further funds and awareness.
Thursday’s speech began with Geldof stating that his generation had utterly failed. He believes that failure is inevitable, and while our generation may put forth great effort, in turn, we will fail as well, and so will the ones following us.
“You do your thing, and you think you’re doing it for the best, and you probably are. And it’s not that it doesn’t come to anything, it is just not enough.” So if we are bound to fail, why all this positivity? Why the optimism? Why One Young World?
The energy throughout the entire Convention Center holds the answer. Delegates come from their home countries prepared and experienced in areas that call for change. As advocates for hope and peace, they never choose not to act. Having an idea is one half of the process, implementing and executing the thought into an action will bring it full circle.
In essence, Geldof’s generation did not leave us in complete ruins. His point was to emphasize that they did not solve enough problems to balance out the ones that were passed down to them. Our current generation does not see complete failure in our future, though, as demonstrated by the delegates. Jennifer Dionne, delegate for the United States, expressed that we need to make small changes and be happy with them. “Hopefully we solve more problems than we create” she stated.
Blaise Buma, a delegate from Cameroon, continues his positivity by viewing failures as an integral part of success. “People who have success have learned from and accepted failure. If you cannot accept failure, then you cannot accept progress.” Failure should not mean that a project is doomed; it is being able to learn something from starting over countless times with the ultimate hopes of creating success.
Bob Geldof was sincere in stating that our generation faces far more daunting challenges than his. While we are lucky to be alive in such a progressive, technologically advanced, and connected time, we should still be wary and alert. “At the moment, in a world of fragmented systems, the world is very fragile”, Geldof warned, “but it is in your power to make the world anew. It is not in my power anymore, it is in yours. Go ahead and do it.”