I’ve thought a lot about Michael Jackson this year. Poor Michael. Poor, rich Michael. Poor, gifted Michael. Like many supercreatives (from the legendary Mozart and Van Gogh to modern day’s Jim Morrison and a legion of his fellow rock stars), Michael suffered some tortured years leading up to his untimely death last summer. Unlike most of the others, though, Michael’s greatest torment came not so much from inner weaknesses for alcohol and the notorious –ines, but from outside. I believe it was mostly society’s jackals and hyenas who detected the superstar’s weaknesses and pulled him down.
I think of Michael Jackson as a beam of light who chose to bless the Earth with a lifetime of relentless talent and creativity. From the moment I saw him belting out Never Can Say Goodbye…
… as a 12-year-old kid in 1971,
… and then seeing him appear to defy the laws of physics with his moonwalk…
I realized immediately: this is a kid destined for greatness. The only other time I had that sense about someone at the core of my being was during Barack Obama’s 2004 address to the Democratic Convention. I knew, this guy should be the next President!
Michael’s greatest weakness (as well as a great strength) was his sensitivity. That sensitivity helped him set fire to millions of minds and hearts with his music and dance, but it also made him an easy target. (Sensitive people, by nature, don’t fight back.) And his amazing wealth made him an appetizing target.
He had a warm spot in his heart for children, which manifested as the Neverland Ranch, an attempt to bring childhood paradise to Earth. He let kids come to the ranch with their parents during day visits, and hosted many of the kids overnight. His intent was to give kids a sense of magic and wonder.
Many adults, especially the hormone-rich variety, saw things from a more sinister perspective, as they often do. Testosterone, in particular, compels people to assume that matters of the heart are usually twisted up with matters of the crotch, so that love and sex always go hand in hand. Some adults began to wonder of those overnight adventures might involve some sexual misconduct… and rumors began to stir a cloud of doubts and uncertainties about Michael… leading eventually to an indictment and lawsuit that tore his life apart even after he was found innocent of all charges.
In particular, a number of adults— parents like Gavin Arvizo’s mom and dad, filmmakers like Martin Bashir, entertainers like Jay Leno and his writers, and innumerable lawyers (who saw Jackson’s estate “open for business”)—took advantage of the weakened entertainer to fulfill their own desires for money, fame, laughs, and more money. They took advantage of Jackson’s sensitivity and dragged him down… like hyenas on a zebra.
Contrary to popular folklore, if attacks like that don’t kill you, they don’t always make you stronger either. Sometimes they leave you too weak and dispirited to go on… especially when some of the hyenas like the taste of blood and continue the attack relentlessly. Such is the nature of the human jungle here on Earth.
In any case, I’m certain that Michael Jackson has now found the paradise that wasn’t quite accessible to him here no Earth.* He’s in the ancestral planes where love, trust, and good will are the driving forces, and being of service to the Grand Plan is the greatest aspiration.
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* or, at any rate, I suspect Michael will SOON be in paradise, after tying up some lose ends here on Earth. Some people believe his ghost was spotted at Neverland Ranch shortly after his death.