Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Generation In Agreement; U2 Chicago

I was at Cubs game a couple of weeks ago with my husband and three kids. It was a beautiful sunny Chicago day and it was made even lovelier by the fact that the Cubs were soundly trouncing the Mets. I grew up going to Cubs games back when only a sprinkling of seats at Wrigley might be full. It was great fun to share a vibrant and exciting team with my kids. It was a sold out game with over 40,000 people in attendance.

At the end of the game when all of us were singing, “Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go. Hey Chicago, what'd you say? The Cubs are gonna win today,” I looked around the stadium almost tearing up and thought, “You know, people can do it. We can come together in agreement, in peace, and in goodwill.” And even if this moment of solidarity was simply for a team it felt like no small thing.

Last night I was at a sold out Soldier Field for another favorite team, U2. It was the opening night of their U.S. concert tour. My husband and I brought our kids. We got our hotdogs and pop and settled in our seats and when we finally took in our surroundings we found we were sitting in a stadium full of families. In front of us a couple with their two sons. Behind us a family like us from the suburbs. This mom and I started comparing notes as to how many times we had seen U2, where and when. (She won. She’d seen them in ’84 in a tiny venue.)

Both our kids and our new found friends' kids rolled their eyes at our conversation and I felt my age in a new way. I did not feel crickety or like a has been. Instead, it felt like something significant was happening. It wasn’t just my husband and I who wanted to share U2’s music and message with our children. As I scanned Soldier Field I saw family after family doing the same.

Unlike the Rolling Stones or other enduring bands U2’s message is, well, different. Bono is the “every man” just trying to maneuver life warts and all, and underneath the truth of how hard life can be is the powerful message of solidarity and oneness with each other within our mutual broken humanity.

It is hard to miss these messages when a packed Soldier Field is singing them in unison.

“Every generation has a chance to change the world.”
“One life, we’ve got to do what we should.”
“We’ve got to carry each other, carry each other.”
“Stand by me. Stand by me.”

This morning I read some of the reviews of the concert--like from a guy over at The Chicago Sun-Times. It is as if he and I were at different shows. I admit I am not a sophisticated critic. I am a mom and a wife and I live in the suburbs. But I am also a member of this generation who resonates deeply with U2’s message and a desire for unity in a world being torn apart. I read the review and felt bad for this cynical reporter. What a drag he couldn't enter in the joy and unity of the show. Everyone else there certainly could. There was a powerful energy in the stadium last night.

I am not a cynic and what I witnessed was a generation in agreement that cynicism and divisiveness is not what we want to be about and not what we want to pass to our children. This is why we come back and continue to fill stadiums for 25 years. Sure, the stage might be cool, but it is so much more.

All those families in the seats--the moms and dads, the sons and daughters--we were there for the music, for the shared solidarity of ideals, and to see some good old friends and familiar faces who have a message that stirs our souls. Not to mention, it is just good rock and roll fun!

Bono and U2 have made real contributions to our global generation in the fight against poverty and disease and injustice. Who can argue with that? Who would want to? Bono and friends started ONE,, a powerful expression of these ideals. If U2 has shown us anything it is that these messages are not simply happy sentiments that make a good song. They are universal truths that make a good world.