Live Aid was one of most important events in my life. Millions of people came together from all over planet to put an end to poverty in Africa. It was one of most positive, life affirming actions ever created by people of my generation. It created hope. It opened my heart.
But now, twenty years on we realise it was slightly na´ve, with much of money donated by genuine and well-meaning people 'disappearing' before it reached people in need. Live 8 takes a very different track to raise awareness of poverty - but can we rely on governments behind G8 to actually make that much difference?
How can we Make Poverty History when forces causing economic devastation in our world are same forces that provide our governments with their funding? As long as GDP (GNP in US) is deemed as most valuable measure of our national 'worth' we are tied to money and its unfair systems - these will always cause poverty in places that don't have resources to exploit and even some that do.
There is enough to go round on this earth - enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed as saying goes. Does political will exist to make changes where system is fair for all? It doesn't seem so. The global financial system and our method of deriving wealth by exploiting capital assets (the earth's resources) will never be equitable. Consumer capitalism relies on poverty as a major motivator. In order to 'have' we need 'have-nots'.
But already pressure of Live 8 has caused a shift in agenda of major governments - with both Blair and Bush keen to be doing something more than just wearing band. But how much can they realistically give away to third world debt? It certainly won't be enough to actually solve root causes of economic disadvantage experienced in many corners of world. It certainly won't change system that results in these economic disadvantages.
But this exciting event will be a paradigm shifter for many people who will look at deeper causes of poverty, maybe for first time. People will realise that there are important alternatives to economic globalisation, GDP slavery and 'celebrity' consumer capitalism. Even that many peoples we describe as economically poor may have happy and fulfilled lives.
People will see for themselves how to shift their energy away from earth exploiting activities into more wholesome and fairer ones. This is where real power to change situation lies, not just in donating our ill-gotten gains to poor, or even in heckling governments to 'do something about it', but also in choices we make every day as individuals.
Choices about how we earn and spend our money, our time, our energy, our resources. Choices about where we go, how we get there, what we look at, how we cope with change. Choices about how we invest in a sustainable future for our finite planet. At present we are using up resources of this world at an alarming rate, leaving our ancestors-to-come with serious problems. At moment our investment policies are based on stealing future from our children.
By divesting 'the GDP economy' of our energy and putting it into non-exploitative practises we tackle root causes of poverty. By increasing local self-reliance and enhancing 'community' there is much we can do to secure a future where we work for, rather than in competition with each other. Investing our energy in making self-reliant communities for future may yet turn out to be a better bet than any amount of pension planning.
There are many alternatives to our present economic system. Different systems of shopping - where people who do actual work get rewarded, such as Fair Trade, local farmers' markets, vegetable box schemes and local trade systems.