I said that I was done with the subject last week. I planned to not even turn on my television today. I just wanted to keep my head turned as much as possible. But after stillness and meditation, I realized that the very strong desire to turn my head away might actually be the very reason not to do so as Michael Jackson’s death might be my good enemy.
The good enemy in Native American teaching is the concept that sometimes the person or situation that causes the most discomfort carries the greatest lesson. Issues raised in the media coverage since Michael Jackson’s death are serious, emotionally evocative, and personal to a great many survivors (a statistically larger group than commonly believed). So I decided to bear witness to Michael Jackson’s memorial service on television today. I prayed for an open heart while I did.
I found myself profoundly moved during parts of the memorial service, a celebration of an extraordinary entertainer and his almost half of a century of global humanitarian, social, cultural, political, and musical influences. Maya Angelou’s poem was brilliant and poignant. And (don’t hate me) I thought Al Sharpton delivered a compelling message in parts, especially to MJ’s children. It was nice to see Martin Luther King’s family, and hear their words of love and compassion. I also thought Brooke Shields had a unique perspective and her tribute was fresh and full of grace. These people clearly had special personal relationships with MJ.
In my opinion, all that is left to make today’s service an honorable tribute is for AEG and/or the Jackson family to reimburse the financially indebted City of Los Angeles for the extraordinary expenses today’s service will otherwise cost taxpayers.
Grasping for release from the negative feelings that I had about (what I believed to be) the skewed perspective of the media coverage of MJ’s death, I watched again many of Michael Jackson’s videos (Thriller, Billie Jean, and the like) this week. I was reminded of how MJ’s artistic genius, spirit, hopes, power, light, darkness, and energy spoke to me when his music and videos (especially from the mid-1980s and before) were first released. They still speak to me now.
I know that his path was not easy from beginning to end. He was a victim and a survivor too. But that isn’t all that he was.
If you read my blog post (and comment section) on MJ last week, you know that I do not share in the fervor of the world as it travels along this bizarre trajectory of mourning a man who was so brilliant on the one (-gloved) hand, but so deceptive, dangerous, and destructive on the other.
After bearing witness to his memorial service today, and watching his videos/listening to his music here and there over the last week, I have this perspective to share:
I am sad for the loss to the world of the artist and human being that he was.
I am sad for the absence in the world of all that he might have been if his response to the damage inflicted on him in his life had been different.
I am sad for the suffering that we all watched another human being both endure and inflict upon himself and others.
I am glad that he is finally at peace, and I hope that the human beings whose lives he affected both positively and negatively will find peace too.
The good enemy had some lessons for me.
Did a good enemy find you this week? What did you learn?