Saturday, April 19, 2008

no "them," only "us"

Sometimes during "One," in the room-to-play/prophesy/improvise/scat (Martin Smith calls it the "drop-down box" section of a song), Bono sings:

"There's no them; there's only us."

That's good centered-set theology. If only I could live my faith like that.

Bono: Demonizing people is one of the things that I've learned, I suppose, about...on the left, which is where I come from. The left loves to mock conservatives, to reduce them, to make them fools, to make idiots of them because then, we reduce them. .. But we have to learn to understand that people who don't agree with the way we think -- don't demonize them.

You know, we all grew up with conspiracies. The conspiracy years ago was the music business. The music business! People in record companies were the devil. What are you talking about? Like Gavin Friday was just saying earlier, when somebody was talking to him about, the -- he said, "I remember that years ago, you sign with a major, you're selling your soul. But he was with Rough Trade and they screwed him over. We all, we love to create "us and them." Our thing in U2 is, No them. No -- not k-n-o-w, but n-o. No them, only us. That, I think, is the mark of our band. link

Here's an example of him singing that line in the Pavarotti tribute version (4:20ff):

And, very fittingly, he sang it that way ay the benefit for the Dublin version of the Special Olympics ( can even see some of the disabled people dancing):

No surprise this is the version Bono also belted out at tje World AIDS Day event.

One of the great stories about the song, Bono relates this way:
Bono: The words just fell out of the sky, a gift. We had a request from the Dalai Lama to participate in a festival called Oneness. I love and respect the Dalai Lama but there was something a little bit "let's hold hands" hippie to me about this particular event. I am in awe of the Tibetan position on non-violence but this event didn't strike a chord. I sent him back a note saying, "One — but not the same."

That, in turn, is wonderful "Bounded set" theology.

Tin Neufeld, in a seminar, The Good Samaritan, U2, and Diversity in the Church," called attention to Bono's "no us..." lyric, and asked participants to discuss the question:

"which is more important, being 'one' or 'not the same?'


  1. At the risk of being misunderstood, I will offer a few comments. First, to attempt to avoid misunderstanding, I fully support helping people, not just Christians, and, as an evangelical, I believe we are to go to all people with Christ's love. However, the idea that they is no "them" only "us" is not biblical, at least not if you mean the forgiven and saved and the unrepentant and unsaved. If it made no difference because it's all "us" and there are no "them," then Jesus would not have talked about separating the sheep from the goats, or talked about the child of God and the children of wrath. True, we should not jump to conclusions about who is which, but there are most definitely the "us" and the "them" in this world. Try hard not to be one of the goats. :-) Thank God for His grace.

  2. absolutely, Clay. well said.



Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!