“On days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats—we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.” -President Obama, in the wake of Boston Marathon bombing – April 15, 2013
“The era of hyphenated liberals ends right here, right now. Tonight.” – Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, in a speech following the announcement that he won around 80% of the vote for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, April 14, 2013
Firstly, I am shocked and saddened by the events of today. It is horrible to see so much violence happening in the world throughout history and in recent times. But the above recent statements got me thinking about what is at the core of such violence, hatred, and negative behavior in the world.
I found it interesting to note similar statements being made by politicians in two different countries in two completely different situations. One of the statements being made in reference between political parties and the other in reference to interactions within a political party. Both statements speak of uniting together as one, in a common purpose, to make positive things happen.
One might come from a victory of a party leader, and the other might come in the wake of a terrible tragedy, but both have a great message in their statement within speeches directed at their respective situations within the last 20 some odd hours.
It calls into question why do we separate ourselves from each other? Why do we have terrorists, citizens, and victims? Why do we have reds and blues, greens, yellows, oranges and others? Are we not all one under the umbrella of the human race?
That being said, I do fight battles whether within or outside of myself where I find myself pitted against someone or something generally somehow. I am not superhuman or above others. But I like to think I can come to terms with my differences from others and realize that in the end, unity reigns above all else.
But I wonder, is this kind of thing about separation vs. unity at the root of our issues in the first place, or is there something else at the core completely?
I thought that, today, it would be fitting to somehow acknowledge Michael Jackson on the anniversary of his birth, his 54th birthday. Though he may not be here in physical form anymore, being that he had the public following which he did, there is much that he left behind, from his creations to the perceptions of others as well as what you may call his teachings or ideas on life. He had the ability to show these ideas through the creation of music, performance, and short films throughout his life (as well as the occasional book and/or interview/speech). In looking at things that he and others have said I found the following:
The media first turned the trial into a freak-show by emphasizing Jackson’s peculiarities rather than his humanity, and stoked the ratings with constant, trivializing coverage while other, far more important stories went under-reported or completely ignored in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Washington, D.C. The press might respond by saying, ”We gave the people what they wanted.” My response would be, ”My job is to give them what they want. When he steps into a recording studio, it’s Michael Jackson’s job to give them what they want. Your job is to give the people what they need.”
What an interesting excerpt from a piece written by Stephen King around Michael Jackson and his trial to fight off allegations of child abuse! It looks to me like it really sets the record straight on what goals belong to which professional in the public arena. Those who are intended to entertain, strive to give the public (to which they are entertaining) what that public wishes to see. Those who are intended to bring forth world events on a regular basis (such as news media) are intended to give the people facts and news about the events going on around the world.
One could argue that the facts were being presented by news media as necessary pursuant to their roles. However, my impression was often that there was some level of suggestion in many reports that had some implication of guilt on the part of Michael Jackson, long before the jury had any say in the matter. Kind of unfortunate for it to be that way; what sells is what’s news, apparently.
From my perspective, Michael Jackson had the right idea:
Just because it’s in print doesn’t mean it’s the gospel.
He even had a song about it, Tabloid Junkie. Anything can be said or written; the more bizarre, sensational or just plain “out there” the better it sometimes seems as far as sales and public interest. I was rather shocked to see one particular story reported on CNN, as it was quite clearly to me the kind of thing of tabloids. The idea of him having a voodoo curse put on people such as Stephen Spielberg among others, bathing in sheep blood, and ceremonially having cows slaughtered in relation to the curses is really bizarre. At the time, I thought that CNN was a source for news, and I could never actually believe that story to be news no matter how much anyone might pay me or how much of a sales and marketing job was enforced upon me. To give them the benefit of the doubt, they must have just momentarily confused the character Wacko Jacko with the man who is Michael Jackson. They really seem like two completely different people.
This individual who may have put curses on people to get back at them for things, and slaughtering animals in the process seems nothing like Michael Jackson reacting the following way to an insect on stage (at about 2 minutes into the video):
It might stand out as different, unique, but with a completely different intent than the above.
Then there’s something Gotham Chopra, wrote, “Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il” in The Huffington Post (5 July 2009) which speaks of Lisa Ling, and Euna Lee being detained in North Korea. He spoke to Gotham about whether there might be anything that could be done. Michael Jackson thought that maybe if Kim Jong II were a fan of his, that might enable him to sway the North Korean leader to free these two individuals. He also said the following:
Gotham writes: “I explained to Michael that there were larger geo-politics involved, nuclear programs, a new administration trying to assert its foreign policy strategy (Obama), and another one in NK possibly going through some sort of transference of power.” Which might be a typical response from most people, but here’s a different and I would say a rather touching response:
“Yeah,” Michael said wistfully, “but if someone wants to do something good, they just can. They don’t really need to worry about all that other stuff.”
It might not always work to just out of the blue be able to do something good, but if it doesn’t I would like to pose the question: Did we really believe we could accomplish that good thing and let that belief surpass any fear or uncertainty we felt about accomplishing the good act?
From Gotham Chopra’s account, it seems as though Michael Jackson goes beyond the role that Stephen King suggests is his role. He not only gave the people what they wanted, through his skill and ability as an entertainer, but he wanted to give so much more.
As can be seen through the lyrics of such songs as Heal the World, Black or White, Man in the Mirror, Will you be There, Earth song, and others; Michael Jackson, or the power that used him as a vessel through which to communicate, had a vision of humankind living in community with one another, regardless of race or creed or other differences. His music, his way of living seems to show humankind as best lived in communion with one another and with a Higher power (regardless of whether this Higher power might be a higher self within us, or something completely outside of us; perhaps a combination therein which is the Creator). It can be argued that how he lived was strange and bizarre, but is that argument using sensationalism as a basis to prove its point, or does it take into account all sides including the good? You can decide.
What a rollercoaster those 54 years have been! I’m suddenly reminded of Michael’s “Leave me Alone” music video, which has imagery of the circus atmosphere and also includes a rollercoaster ride. The song is from his Bad album, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with a release in September of Bad 25, including the first officially released concert from the Bad world tour.
Feel free to watch the “Leave me Alone” video here: