Bob Geldof is beginning to look like a man who is trying to relive past glories. Back in 1984 when he banged the table and shouted "Give us your f****** money" he seemed like a young firebrand out to make a difference. Last week when he castigated the singer Adele for not returning his calls he looked suspiciously like a grumpy old man bullying a young mum who wouldn't do what he wanted.
A lot has changed since 1984. Back then the world needed waking up to what was going on in Africa and Geldof's abrasiveness was just what was needed. The Internet was just a glint in the eye of a bunch of CERN proto-geeks and Geldof galvanized a generation to directly engage with global issues. Thirty years later though we don't need waking up. Governments and media are only too keen to scare the living daylights out of us with all the problems in the world and Ebola is the latest to walk back onto the stage. What is more the whole global social-economic landscape has changed, as has the mindset. Back in 1984, admirable as it was, Live Aid had a distinctly post-colonial whiff about it: Africa was a problem that only rich developed countries could sort out. Africa is still a continent with a lot of issues, but most Africans no longer want this post-colonial hand holding. In the thirty years since Live Aid China has risen to dominate African reconstruction, with a 'trade not aid' policy that focuses on building infrastructure in return for comodoties rather than do-gooding and helping out.
More crucially though our social landscape has changed too. If you read the biographies of Keith Richards and John Lennon you read vivid stories of epic rock star lives. If you read the stories of their children though you hear a very different tale. Both Marlon Richards and Julian Lennon talk of the massive impact that the neglect and lack of availability and care of their fathers had on them. Zowie Bowie, a child who was labeled as if he was a character in a David Bowie song rather than a real child, changed his name to simple Duncan Jones - just wanting to be a normal human being. Time and time again we see the damage that parents with their attention on bigger things have on their children.
Adele was brought up by a single mum who struggled for money but provided her daughter with a stable and loving home. That Adele is now wanting to do the same should be supported and applauded, not attacked as a sign of selfishness. It is the egotistical rock star who wants to play God that is selfish. A woman choosing to sacrifice a glamorous career to bring up her child is the antitheses of that - it is selflessness.
If Bob Geldof really wants to make a difference in 2014 he should realise that charity needs to start at home. The world has never been more at war, friction and fear is everywhere. Nothing in certain any more. What both children and their parents need to feel is love and care and safety. If we all focused on that, not just in our homes, but in our immediate neighbourhoods, our threadbare high streets, our hospitals and schools, then together we might be able to create a world that works for everyone.
Desmond Tutu famously said "When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray'. We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land." One of the ironies of this legacy is it is Africa that now sends missionaries to poor neighbourhoods in western cities to try and save souls rather than the other way around.
What the world needs now is not tub thumping orators bulling people to act, it needs a mass out break of love, care and respect for humanity. It needs people who can lead by example, and it is Adele not Bob Geldoff who is showing us the way.Suggest a correction