Bono Quotations

"Our music never had a roof on it."

"If RED is a charity, ONE is about justice."

"The less you know, the more you believe."

"Elvis Presley was the Big Bang for rock and roll."

"Tonight save a life- tomorrow change the world."

"All the best songs are co-written by God, y'know!"

"I love this work I do. It's a privilege to serve the poor,...."

"Celebrity is currency, so I wanted to use mine effectively."

"Yes, I sometimes fail, but at least I'm willing to experiment."

"Where you live should no longer determine whether you live."

"Freedom has a scent like the top of a new born babies head."

"I'm not a whinging liberal. I'm no hippie with flowers in my hair."

"I believe in the kingdom come. Then all the colors will bleed into one."

"Well, the going rate for change is not cheap. Big ideas are expensive."

"Me, I'm in love with this country called America. I'm a huge fan of America."

"It's not enough to rage against the've got to replace it with the truth."

"I am a friend to God, a sworn enemy of the saccharine and a believer in grace over karma."

"At a certain point, I just felt, you know, God is not looking for alms, God is looking for action."

"But my point is that the world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape."

"America is not just a country; it's an idea. You have to defend the idea as well as the country, and that idea is being attacked."

"I read the Declaration of Independence and I've read the Constitution of the United States, and they are some liner notes, dude."

"And this wise man asked me to stop. He said, "Stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Get involved in what God is doing -- because it's already blessed."

"America is an idea, but it's an idea that brings with it some baggage, like power brings responsibility. It's an idea that brings with it equality, but equality even though it's the highest calling, is the hardest to reach. The idea that anything is possible, that's one of the reasons why I'm a fan of America."

"When I was a kid in Dublin, I watched in awe as America put a man on the moon. We thought, you know, this is "mad." Nothing is impossible in America. In America, they can do anything over there."

"There's a great freedom when you have your feet in two so called mutually exclusive worlds: The world of irony, and the world of soul, The world of flesh, and the world of spirit, The world of surface and the world of depth."

"I'm tired of dreaming. I'm into doing at the moment. It's, like, let's only have goals that we can go after."

"Distance does not decide who is your brother and who is not. The church is going to have to become the conscience of the free market if it's to have any meaning in this world - and stop being its apologist."

"Every age has its massive moral blind spots. We might not see them, but our children will."

"What can I give back to God for the blessings he's poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation - a toast to God!",

"The attention of the world might sometimes be elsewhere, but history is watching. It's taking notes. And it's going to hold us to account, each of us."

"When the story of these times gets written, we want it to say that we did all we could, and it was more than anyone could have imagined."

"To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater."

"Well this is the time for bold measures. This is the country (America), and you are the generation."

"Isn't equality a son of a bitch to follow through on. Isn't "Love thy neighbour" in the global village so inconvenient?"

"When you sing, you make people vulnerable to change in their lives. You make yourself vulnerable to change in your life. But in the end, you've got to become the change you want to see in the world."

"We're not here today for a victory lap; we're here to pick up the pace. Because AIDS is outrunning us,"

"Our generation will be remembered for the Internet, for the war against terror, and for how we let an entire continent burst into flames while we stood around with watering cans—or not,"

"Eight million people die every year for the price of going out with your friends to the movies and buying an ice cream. Literally for about $30 a head per year, you could save 8 million lives. Isn't that extraordinary? Preventable disease - not calamity, not famine, nothing like that. Preventable disease - just for the lack of medicines. That is cheap, that is a bargain."

"When the potatoes ran out, millions of Irish men, women and children packed their bags got on a boat and showed up right here. And we're still doing it. We're not even starving anymore, loads of potatoes. In fact if there's any Irish out there, I've breaking news from Dublin, the potato famine is over you can come home now. But why are we still showing up? Because we love the idea of America."

"Senators, I spend a lot of time in this country. Maybe too much for your liking. I spend a lot of time in buses. At truck stops. In town halls. In church halls. I do all this, and I'm not even running for office."

If I could, you know I would. If I could, I would let it go. This desparation, dislocation, separation, condemnation, revelation, in temptation, isolation, desolation.

"Americans, Irish people, are good at charity. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it. But justice is a higher standard."

"It's patently clear to anyone living in New York or London that whole corners of their cities were about to be taken out, whether with chemicals or dirty nuclear devices. So I'm not full of criticism for the way the Americans have behaved. I'm with them."

"But you know what's amazing? Everywhere I go, I see very much the same thing. I see the same compassion for people who live half a world away. I see the same concern about events beyond these borders. And, increasingly, I see the same conviction that we can and we must join together to stop the scourge of AIDS and poverty."

"Sing the melody line you hear in your own head, remember, you don't owe anybody any explanations, you don't owe your parents any explanations, you don't owe your professors any explanations. You know I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out. But it's not. The future is not fixed, it's fluid. You can build your own building, or hut or condo, whatever;"

"We have to have a very simple standard of doing business, which is: If you are not tackling corruption, if you are not allowing civil society to do their job, we are not giving you any money. Outside of famine, and outside of those kinds of catastrophes, which need money pumped in no matter who's in charge. We are not marching the streets to redecorate presidential palaces for anyone."

"Even then I prayed more outside of the church than inside. It gets back to the songs I was listening to; to me, they were prayers. "How many roads must a man walk down?" That wasn't a rhetorical question to me. It was addressed to God. It's a question I wanted to know the answer to, and I'm wondering, who do I ask that to? I'm not gonna ask a schoolteacher. When John Lennon sings, "Oh, my love/For the first time in my life/My eyes are wide open" -- these songs have an intimacy for me that's not just between people, I realize now, not just sexual intimacy. A spiritual intimacy."

"I'm not in a position to be seen as a spokesman for a generation. I mean, how can you be a spokesman of a generation if you've nothing to say, other than 'Help!'"

"My heroes are all alive. I never have worshipped at that altar of burnt-out youth."

"But we've got to follow through on our ideals or we betray something at the heart of who we are. Outside these gates, and even within them, the culture of idealism is under siege, beset by materialism and narcissism and all the other "isms" of indifference"

"But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross."

"But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace."

"You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff."

"I'm not doubting. I don't doubt God. I have firm faith absolutely in God. It's religion I'm doubting."

"Take this soul stranded in some skin and bones. Take this soul and make it sing."

"And I know it aches. How your heart it breaks. You can only take so much. Walk on"

"Yahweh Yahweh always pain before a child is born. Yahweh Yahweh still I'm waiting for the dawn."

"I will admit that we are attracted to issues that unify people rather than divide them."

"Take these hands, teach them what to carry. Take these hands, don't make a fist. Take this mouth, so quick to criticize. Take this mouth, give it a kiss."

"Every era has its defining struggle and the fate of Africa is one of ours. It's not the only one, but in the history books it's easily going to make the top five, what we did or what we did not do. It's a proving ground, as I said earlier, for the idea of equality. But whether it's this or something else, I hope you'll pick a fight and get in it."

"We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong."

"The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. So the blues, on one hand -- running away; gospel, the Mighty Clouds of Joy -- running towards. And later you came to analyze it and figure it out."

"If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there's a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in "straw poverty"; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me."

"As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It's so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don't use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I'm the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut."

"There are potentially another 10 Afghanistans in Africa, and it is cheaper by a factor of 100 to prevent the fires from happening than to put them out."

"Imagine if a third of the kids at your local primary school were AIDS orphans. That's a reality in Africa where the parents of 13 million children have been killed by AIDS."

"I was jumping up and down. The president deserves a lot of credit for that. He really stuck his neck out. He was right, it's important the people know at this time what America is for as well as what America's against." on George Bush's announcement of increased AIDS funding for Africa

"There are many side roads and back streets to rock 'n' roll, and most of us get lost down them at times."

"Those songs we sang on tour really helped me through the death of my dad. The problem with grief is bottling it up and that's when it can really floor you. You have to express it and face it and I was doing that every night."

"I'm very secure with the fact that I'm not black. I'm white, pink and rosy. But I've got soul."

"Politicians don't turn me on, politics doesn't turn me on, the way music does. I have a lot more respect for them than I used to. They work a lot harder than I thought...but I don't want to be one."

"I could never be a politician because I think I'm too selfish, and I think I like to have fun: the right to be irresponsible is a right I hold dear."

"I've had the best life that a man's ever had: I don't just mean with U2, I mean with my family and even my father, whose loss I feel every day."

"We used to look at bands who could play better and look better, and we used to say, 'They have everything but 'it.'' We had nothing but 'it.'"

"I'm confident that President Bush has a real feeling for the AIDS pandemic. Essentially, what we're asking for is a kind of Marshall Plan for Africa."

"You have worked your ass off for this. For four years you've been buying, trading, and selling, everything you've got in this marketplace of ideas. The intellectual hustle. Your pockets are full, even if your parents' are empty, and now you've got to figure out what to spend it on."

"Look at what happened in Southeast Asia with the Tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to the greatest misnomer of all misnomers, "mother nature." Well, in Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it's a completely avoidable catastrophe."

"Every age has its massive moral blind spots. We might not see them, but our children will. Slavery was one of them and the people who best served that age were the ones who called it as it was--which was ungodly and inhuman."

"Truth is beauty. That can be a hard thing to say, because some things are not so attractive on the surface. But by owning up to them, we change them—just by speaking them. The first line on the page can be "I have nothing to offer. I'm empty today." That's why public confession—whether it's part of religious practice or on your show—is so important."

"Segregation. There was another one. America sees this now but it took a civil rights movement to betray their age. And 50 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court betrayed the age May 17, 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education came down and put the lie to the idea that separate can ever really be equal. Amen to that. Fast forward 50 years. May 17, 2004. What are the ideas right now worth betraying? What are the lies we tell ourselves now? What are the blind spots of our age?"

"When I was 10, I learned what unlocks creativity. We were studying William Butler Yeats, one of the great poets of the 20th century, and my teacher explained that there was a period when Yeats had writer's block. I put my hand up in class and asked, "Why didn't he write about that?" It was like, "Oh, shut up." I've since learned that there's something to being truthful. The Scriptures say the truth will set you free. The truth is at the root of every piece of creativity. So if you're truthful about your situation, whatever it is as an artist—whether it's despair, whether it's hope, whether it's ambition—suddenly you're there."

"So my question I suppose is: What's the big idea? What's your big idea? What are you willing to spend your moral capital, your intellectual capital, your cash, your sweat equity in pursuing outside of the walls of the University of Pennsylvania?"

"I love the bit when Christ asked for his greatest hits and he says, 'OK, love God, and love your neighbours as yourself.' Christianity is not complicated, that's what it is."

"Joy is a subject I go on and on about. It's one of the only emotions you can't contrive. It's impossible. Despair and anger are easier to convey. Great rock 'n' roll, the raw stuff, is pure joy. It's that sense of being alive, of being grateful for your pulse."

"One of the greatest contradictions of rock 'n' roll is that it's very personal, private music made on a huge public address system."

"U2 is about the impossible. Politics is the art of the possible. They're very different, and I'm resigned to that now."

"There was a badness that had its way. But love wasn't lost. Love will have its day."

"And I know it aches, how your heart it breaks. You can only take so much, walk on, walk on."

"Home, hard to know what it is if you've never had one. Home, I can't say where it is but I know I'm going."

"If I am close to the music, and you are close to the music, we are close to each other."

"To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal. If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel."

"I want to play the guitar very badly, and I DO play the guitar very badly."

"In some ways, success is a lot easier to achieve than relevance. Being 40, we have to come up with extra reasons for people to put us on the radio."

"One love, one blood, one life. You got to do what you should. One life with each other sisters, brothers. One life but we're not the same. We get to carry each other, carry each other"

"I think most people who I'm dealing with accept that the way I look, dress or act, doesn't take away from the rigours of the arguments I'm making."

"Mock the devil and he will flee from thee. Fear of the devil leads to devil worship."

"The truth is when that singer is saying something that comes from right down within him, and it affects you right down within you. That's when you start talking about great music, as distinct from nice music."

"The final mark of greatness, I think, is emptiness. That is true of music, painting, of anything. The less you can do it with, the more powerful you are."

"Two things happened on 9/11. There was -- the one that's reported, of course, is the attack on America. But the one that has not been reported, and reported with less disgust, is what happened in the aftermath, which was those pictures around the world of people jumping up and down, celebrating the Twin Towers turning to dust. One of the most disturbing -- they were the most disturbing images for me as a fan and a person who loves America."

"I'm liking the anonymity, I mean, it's a thrill. People who know me say I start walking differently when I'm here. Because I guess, maybe, I think I'm free. I think I'm free of myself consciously of a rock star. Because you know when you first become famous, you start walking a little different because people are staring at you. I thought I was over that. I'm really over it when I'm here, because it doesn't exist."

"It's annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren't they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain in the arse... Seriously. I mean, you think of these Jewish sheep-herders going to meet with the Pharaoh, mud on their shoes, and the Pharaoh goes, "Equal?...Equal?" And they say, "Yeah, that's what it says here in the book here -- 'We’re all made in the image of God,' sir."

"I genuinely see myself as a traveling salesman. I think that's what I do. I sell songs door-to-door on tour. I sell ideas like debt relief, and like all salesmen, I'm a bit of an opportunist and I see Africa as great opportunity. And I don't just mean this in terms of doing business with Africa for America or Europe, which I do. I mean it's an opportunity for us in the West to show our values, because a lot people are not sure we have any — to show what we are made of, to see a continent in crisis and demonstrate what we can do."

"But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths, all ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and the poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house... God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives... God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war... God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them."

"Here's some good news -- [looks at President Bush] -- for you, Mr. President. After 9-11 we were told America would have no time for the World's poor. We were told America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. And it's true these are dangerous times, but America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors. In fact, you have doubled aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. And Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support of the Global Fund -- you and Congress -- have put 700,000 people onto life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria."

"Do unto others as you would have them do to you." Jesus says that [Luke 6:30]. "Righteousness is this: that one should... give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives." The Koran says that [2.177]. Thus sayeth the Lord: "Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard." The Jewish Scripture says that. It's Isaiah 58 [verses 7-8] again. It's a very powerful incentive: "The Lord will watch your back." Sounds like a good deal to me, especially right now..."

Compiled by Thomas George