Spanning the globe for insights into human behavior and persuasion.



Live 8 Worked

Live 8 was a success. That's my perspective anyway. I admit I didn't watch, but 2 billion people did. True, it had its share of critics--some saying that no one pays attention to celebrity anymore, others questioning Bob Geldof's (the event's organizer) motives. Many from the continent of Africa (like this one) said Live 8 would do more harm than good. (Nelson Mandela wasn't one of them.)

But 2 billion people tuned in.

That's almost a third of the world's population.

I've thought a bit about last week's question: why do events like this make a lasting impression? I think Live 8 worked because of two factors: attention and truth. Celebrity got our attention; the music kept our attention. And Brad Pitt and Claudia Schiffer and Bono and Paul McCartney and others spoke the truth--that the place of our birth should not be allowed to determine the course of our lives, that everyone has within them a seed of potential, which given the right environment, can blossom and grow and become beautiful, that we can help Africa nurture its people.

The G8 leaders probably won't make sweeping changes in their policies toward Africa. Most of the 2 billion viewers won't change their everyday lives because of what they saw. Change of mind and heart rarely happens overnight. But seeds of change have been sown. Collective awareness has been raised. People are thinking about Africa. They're questioning their assumptions. That's where change begins.

UPDATE: Looks like Live 8 was more successful than I thought it would be. After G8 leaders doubled African aid to $50 billion and agreed in principle to forgive the debt of 18 of the world's poorest countries, Bono declared victory:
Irish rock star Bono, who helped organize last weekend's global Live 8 concerts to pressure G-8 leaders to spend more money on Africa, said "a mountain has been climbed."

"We've pulled this off," he said. "The world spoke and the politicians listened."
And from Tony Blair:
"All of this does not change the world tomorrow. It is a beginning, not an end."

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