Michael Jackson died yesterday and I am having an extremely visceral reaction to the news. Not because of how I felt about him, as a person, one way or another but because of how the world is reacting. Stephen and were out of town yesterday, and as we drove home, Michael's death became the top headline. His music started to play on every radio station after news of his death was confirmed. Major media outlets that had vilified him, called him "freak", covered the incredibly annoyingly minute details of his trials, financial struggles, and children were now mounting 3-4 hour long "tributes" to remember "The King of Pop".
Here's my thing...48 hours ago, how many of us thought negatively of this man or would have allowed others to say negative things about him in our presence? I am not writing this to say that I think he was good or bad - to be honest, other than knowing I love his music and that he was an important part of my 80's childhood experience, I don't know what kind of person I think he was or how I will remember him. What bothers me is that it is almost undeniable that for the last 20 or so years of this man's life, we, as a public, dragged every detail of his life through our judgment periscope and often came out with a condemning negative opinion, and now we all love him and pay tribute?
Again, this brings back feelings of why I started this project: why must someone be gone to finally have a nice thing or two said about them? What is going on in our culture that we need to tear someone down while they are "around" but the minute they are "gone" we suddenly reflect on pretty much only the good that that individual brought into people's lives? I don't get it. It makes me very sad and not a tiny bit angry.
Seriously - I know this man has some pretty serious allegations in his history and I am not making light of what may, or may not, have happened under his influence. But I am using these past 24 hours as an object lesson: in my opinion, each of us needs to take the time to decide how we will perceive the world - personally, I would argue that part of that perception should include always trying to find the good. And, if someone is good, or if someone does something to make your life better - no matter how small - let them know while they can still know it. Today - can't you find one person to say something nice to? Even if someone holds the door for you can't you say "thank you"? Can't you think of one person who's made a difference to you, and regardless of where your relationship may be now, let them know, that for one moment, however brief, that that person made a mark on your life?
I can't stop thinking about how Michael thought he may or may not have been appreciated in these past 10 years...if only he'd received the outpouring of love so many want to throw his way today while he was still alive.
3 weeks ago