Please stick with this one to the end… where there is a challenge waiting for you.
This is a post I’ve been chewing on for a few days now, and I really wasn’t sure if I’d end up writing it or not. On balance, I think I need to.
On Friday, as Sue packed for Bangkok, we watched Bono and Oprah launch the North American version of the Product (RED) campaign. We were both inspi(red) by the excitement, and moved to tears by the scenes from Africa. But as the show progressed and the feeding frenzy that was Oprah’s shopping trip continued, I started to feel a little sick.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I love this program. And I hate it. Let me try to explain why.
The love part is easy. I love it because it will provide funds for saving lives. What’s not to love about that?
Here’s the part with which I’m having trouble. I hate it because it’s a sad commentary, a mirror if you will, reflecting the reality of our culture back to us. The currency of the Kingdom is love. The currency of this material, self-centered culture is “stuff.” Bono is brilliant as he has realized this, and knows we will not give out of love. HIV/AIDS is killing people in numbers too horrible to give voice to. And while this troubles us, it apparently doesn’t trouble us enough to give out of love. The brilliance of Product (Red) is that it will get the money out of us anyway. No love? Fine, then we’ll appeal to your need for the other currency, for stuff. Want a new Gap shirt, and a trendy one at that? Great. Here you go, and by the way, a couple of bucks will go to life-saving drugs.
In short, I long for a world that operates on Kingdom currency. It’s coming… just not fast enough. In the meantime, I will grit my teeth, smile, and promote the Product (RED) campaign. Heck, I’ll probably end up wearing a red t-shirt. Hypocritical? Maybe. Paradoxical? Definitely.
We’ve been looking at the (RED) iPod specifically. When you spend $200 US on the iPod, Apple will contribute $10 to the Global Fund. (Robert has changed his mind about Christmas, BTW, so don’t bother emailing his wife.)
I don’t have a clue what the profit margins are like on the iPod, but $10 doesn’t strike me as a lot of money. Let’s be realistic. It’s not. Here’s the choice: You can lay out $200, get a new iPod, and contribute $10 to a good cause. Or, you can just contribute the $10. We believe we can get 1000 people to donate $10 each. We’d like $10 from everyone in the developed world, but we’ll settle for you, and everyone you know. And when we’re done, we’ll pass the money--all of it--along to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
First, we need your $10. Just as importantly, we then need you to reach out to all your contacts. Post a link on your blog, send out an email to your friends, hang a banner from your window... whatever it takes. We'll keep you posted on how we're doing.
Together, we can do this. Help prove us right. Thank you.
UPDATE: (November 2008) 2 years later and this post still gets a lot of hits from people googling their way through the (Product RED )issue. For the sake of some closure for those of you just arriving, here's some (hopefully) interesting yet non-critical updates.
(Red)emption For Christmas! (December 5, 2006) This was kind of cool.
(Red)emption - Week 10 (December 29, 06) What we looked like
What a Day! (January 9, 2007) Just for the photo
Wrapping Up (Red)emption (January 12, 2007)