Glucksman Ireland House — New York University (NYU), presented its inaugural Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lecture on October 5.
Musician and political activist U2’s Bono introduced Columbia University’s Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the author of the bestselling book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.
Bono, whose intensive lobbying of politicians all over the world recently helped force a promise from wealthy nations to cancel $100 billion worth of poor countries’ debt, acknowledged Sachs as his mentor. “It’s a long time since I’ve been a warm-up act, but on this occasion I am happy I am,” he told the audience. He said Sachs, whose class he attended at Harvard, “sees the faces through the spreadsheets.
“He sees statistics not as numbers on a page, but as figures of real people’s lives,” said Bono, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. “He certainly could teach me what I didn’t know but what I felt, which was that all the arguments against debt relief were bullshit.”
Sachs, for his part, acknowledged Bono’s campaign, noting in particular his ability to get politicians of differing ideologies to work together for a noble cause.
“The big problem in America is we became afraid of the poor — afraid they will drag you down,” Sachs said, adding, “They don’t want your handouts, they want a little bit of help to save themselves and their children.”
He invited students to learn the way he learned “to go out and see it” for themselves. “Once you do that,” he said, “you can never be the same.
“We are the first generation in history [able] to see the end of extreme poverty on our planet,” he counseled. “We have to do it because if we don’t do it, we will so diminish the value of life that we will put our children at risk.”
The Moynihan lecture series was established by Glucksman Ireland House to commemorate the late senator’s contribution to political and economic affairs around the world throughout his career.
Loretta Brennan Glucksman, founder and Chairperson of Glucksman Ireland House, said: “Senator Moynihan was an exceptional statesman, scholar and Irish-American and a standard bearer for making a positive difference…. He was a great man, a great thinker, a man of great principle, a great American and a great Irishman. We are proud to have this opportunity to honor his memory in such an appropriate manner with the generous participation of Bono and Professor Sachs — two people who in their own right are helping to define the world we live in today and shape the world we will live in tomorrow.”
The lecture, the first in what will be an annual event, took place at the Jack H. Skirball Center for The Performing Arts at New York University, with over 800 people in attendance. ♦