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Michael Jackson’s Unfinished Dream
The mention of Michael Jackson in my Facebook status shocked many, especially because I invited them to pray for him. Within minutes, dozens of friends commented on my status, most of them fans. The more personal messages were dropped in my inbox or sent directly via email, and these were from annoyed friends: “What do you have to do with Michael Jackson, the child molester, blah, blah, blah?”
This is a very big question, a huge question, as it can be rephrased in countless ways. what do I have to do with you? What do I have to do with the publisher of this paper? What do I have to do with President Obama?
Or what do I or you have to do with this world? Perhaps the best answer is, “Because I live in this world.” That’s the point. The fact that you and I live in this world connects us to all other citizens of the world.
I am reminded of the great Sufi mystic poet Saadi: “Human beings are members of a whole, in the creation of an essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, the other members remain restless. If you do not feel sympathy for human pain, the name of the person, which you cannot keep.”
But human pain and suffering cannot connect me to my fellow humans if I don’t have some kind of “feeling” for them. I have an emotional bond with my family members, so I can easily feel their pain. But I may not have that connection with you and therefore I may not feel the same way about you and your pain and suffering.
Not so Michael Jackson, he too felt the pain of suffering humanity. He has raised and donated millions of dollars to humanitarian causes. He wasn’t forced to do what he did. Indeed, there are people much richer than him who have done nothing to alleviate the suffering.
Michael Jackson is different from them because of his “feelings”. We can still hear echoes of his compassion through his songs and writings, such as this track from his album Dangerous:
“Consciousness is expressed in creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the blink of an eye, but the dance lives on.
“Many times when I dance I am touched by something sacred. In those moments I feel my soul soar and become one with all that exists.
“I will become stars and moons. I will become lovers and loved. I will become victors and vanquished. I will become masters and slaves. Singers and singers. Knowers and known.
“I dance on, then this is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and the creation merge into one fullness of joy. I dance on…as long as… the dance.”
Such feelings are indeed very “dangerous”, because then you can no longer close your eyes to what is happening around you. Michael was in a very vulnerable state, before even expressing such thoughts, he was already singing: “We are the world…the world must stand together.. It’s time to reach out to life.”
He was connected to the world not only physically, but also spiritually. He did not stop at recognizing and acknowledging people’s pain and suffering; wanted to change.
In “Man in the Mirror,” he truly saw the reflection of his soul and sang with heightened fervor, “If you want to make the world a better place, look at yourself and then change.” It was advice given not to you or to me, but to yourself: “I’m going to change, once in my life it’s going to feel really good, it’s going to make a difference, I’m going to fix it…”
Realizing that she was a “victim of a selfish kind of love” made her even more obsessed with spreading the right kind of love to heal herself and “Heal the World” to “make it a better place for you.” and to me”. He dreamed of a world where “black or white” either didn’t matter at all or mattered equally.
In “The Earth Song”, he cried with Mother Earth: “What we’ve done to the world, look what we’ve done.” Frustrated by the events around him, he continued, “I used to dream, I looked beyond the stars; now I don’t know where we are, though I know we’ve drifted far away.”
In the late 1970s, I had a rare chance to meet the philosopher J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986). He suffered from a similar frustration. Later, in a documentary about his life, those close to him in his last days discussed his disappointment.
Philosopher J. Krishnamurti and artist Michael Jackson both spoke of change, of ultimate freedom from slavery, from the old-damn old paradigms. And as Mahatma Gandhi so aptly put it, they both realized they had to “be the change” they wanted to see in the world. Nevertheless, both died disappointed, as did the Mahatma. Gandhi who could not accept the idea of dividing India on the basis of religion.
J. Krishnamurti vented his frustrations through his writings and conversations with the people around him. Gandhi vented his frustrations by retiring from political life and returning to his commune in Gujarat. Michael Jackson, the star, vented his frustration by experimenting with his body. He turned his body into a laboratory.
From a strict diet to multiple plastic surgeries and getting involved in unpopular “enterprises”, her love and sex life – all can be seen as manifestations of her innermost desire for change. Change was both his dream and his obsession. When he “felt” that he had failed to make a change, or at least not the kind of change he wanted, he withdrew and shut himself off from the outside world. This was a serious mistake. With that, he closed all the shops to release his frustrations. And he died a lonely man.
Still, a man, a star like Michael Jackson, is too big to die. Indeed, too bright a star to fall. It will shine for many, many years. His singing legacy, his unfulfilled dream of the world to come and his obsession with change will be remembered by generations to come. Michael’s dream lives on because his dream is not his lonely dream, his dream is the dream of all who can dream something big.
Jackson, we share your frustration and turn it into energy to fulfill your dream of “creating a better world for you and me”. I will not say goodbye to you, my friend, because in your dream our meeting will continue.
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