Choosing interesting enemies

For those who are comfortable with the idea of enemies, the question that launched the parable of the Good Samaritan, “Who is my neighbor?” can be incredibly uncomfortable and crucial. For those comfortable with a broad-strokes, “we’re all neighbors and it’s all good” approach, the question “Who is my enemy?” can, I think, be equally clarifying.

The following week, Bono and I have one final conversation, and I ask about the album’s last lines: “Choose you enemies carefully, ‘cause they will define you/ Make then interesting, because in some ways they will mind you/ They’re not there in the beginning, but when your story ends/ Gonna last longer with you than your friends.”

Bono “Yeah. Yeah. They’re are going to be closer than your friends. They are going to shape you.”

SOH Are you singing from experience here?

Bono “In a way, I guess. I think one of the things that has set our band apart is the fact that we chose interesting enemies. We didn’t choose the obvious enemies – The Man, the establishment. We didn’t buy into that. Our credo was: no them, there’s only us. Think about it. Every other band was us and them. The Clash, our great heroes. Then U2 arrived and it was no them, only us.  

“What that means is that we picked enemies that were more internal – our own hypocrisy. The main obstacle in the way of our band we always saw as ourselves and our limitations. We never blamed the record company. We never blamed the radio [laughs]. You never heard that from us in 25 years. It was always, can we be better? Can we make the song better, the show? What you’re really dealing with then are the obstacles to realising your own potential. They are nearly always of a psychological, if not a spiritual, nature. The spectres that hold you back, they were our enemies. It was always, ‘You’re supposed to be in a rock’n’roll band. You’re supposed to be rebellious, but you don’t rebel against the obvious.’ And we’d go, ‘No, we don’t. That’s the point.’”


Originally published at culture-making.com.

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