Friday, June 26, 2009

Appreciating What We Create – A Lesson from Michael Jackson

For my “Musings-in-a-Minute” version of this blog entry, please click here.

The world was saddened yesterday by the death of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson’s death was seen as particularly tragic, given the gifts and talents that he had contrasted with the many seemingly bizarre events and actions in his life.  He lived a life in deep physical and mental anguish.  As one person noted this morning on the radio – he died beloved by millions but loved by few.

One of the sad elements of Michael Jackson’s passing is how some people are focusing on the unusual elements of his life – the charges against him in the early 2000’s (of which he was acquitted on all counts), his child-like way of being, his unusual behavior with his children (who can forget him dangling his child from the balcony) and other actions and behaviors that we cite as strange, bizarre or unusual.

Many choose to be critical of many of these actions.

While it is true that we shouldn’t condone them or dismiss them, there is, however, something that we need to understand about his actions and the actions of other people like him.

We own responsibility for who Michael Jackson was – the good and the bad.

I’m referring to the “royal we” – society itself.

We created a society that craves for the talents of people like Michael Jackson.

In doing so, we enable the actions of many people around him, starting from his parents and moving right up through the ranks and the years to his handlers, agents and such.  There are many people who will use someone like Michael Jackson to achieve their own selfish need or to satisfy the need of the populace at large at the expense of others.

We do this with a lot of celebrities.

We do this with a lot of corporations – demanding that their products be sleeker, sexier, smaller, lighter, more colorful, more feature filled, provide an unreasonable rate of return, etc. and we want it now.  Later on, we punish the company when we discover that they took a lot of moral, ethical and perhaps legal shortcuts to get there.

I’m not saying the shortcuts are right nor should they be dismissed.  However, I am suggesting that many of us who criticize may have taken the same shortcut if the opportunity to please the populace existed and the reward was as great.

We may deny it but the fact remains that most of us have our price.

If we examine the financial turmoil that we are in today, we are constantly looking for scapegoats to hang high.  “How dare they do this to us”, we cry, “We have been robbed.”.

And yet, the warnings have been coming for years.  We chose to ignore them because life was too good for most of us – why worry about tomorrow when the life of today is great?

If we look at the incarcerated individual, many look down on them as disgusting, immoral, perverted, twisted, deranged, insane or some other word.

A word that allows us to differentiate ourselves from them – to establish a magical line that separates good from evil.

It is however, a word that also hides the fact that these people for the most part are created, not born, that way.

If we had the same genetics and identical life experiences, there is a high probability that those people would be looking down on us using the same words, as we would be inside the walls and they would be outside.

I’m not suggesting that people not be held accountable. 

There are also incredible examples of people who have overcome staggering odds to become phenomenal role models in society.

We should spend more time trying to figure out what brings out that positive element of their life, to help others discover this magic elixir of converting a lost life into one of profound, positive impact.

Until such a magic pill is discovered, we should be more cautious about looking to blame the other person or criticizing them for everything that affronts us and ask ourselves “What role did I play in this?  If nothing else, maybe I could have held more people accountable and exerted more positive influence.”

Because in the end, a few variations in our Life path are sometimes all it takes to send us in a direction that we criticize when we see it in others.

We need to change our behavior, otherwise greater corrections are in our future.

Let’s create positively and proactively.

Let’s do the absolute best we can with everything within our influence.

Let’s be consistent with our expectations – let’s be cognizant of the downstream impact of our needs, wants and desires – on ourselves, on others and on our environment.

Let’s cherish what we create – the good, the bad and everything in between.

Let’s try harder to cherish more, criticize less, understand more, help more and love more.

When we see something that affronts us, let’s put more energy into solving it or healing it then criticizing it.

After all – whether we like the results or not, we created them as a society.

All of them.

So let’s make a choice to own and create better results – as leaders, as family members, as contributors to community and as residents on this planet.

Michael Jackson did some things wrong in his life.  He did a lot of things right.  He overcame a lot.  Despite some of the things that he did that were wrong, he left a legacy to millions.

John Ruskin had a stone on his desk with one word carved in it. 

The word was “Today”.

What are you doing with the gift of today to leave a positive legacy to others?

Look within before looking outside.

Yours in service and servanthood.


For my “Musings-in-a-Minute” version of this blog entry, please click here.


  1. Harry,
    Your words resonated with me. The people we see are merely reflections of our own beliefs. "I am Michael Jackson and he is me." That statement may seem absurd but Michael is a mirror onto which I project all of my beliefs. I spot what I got.

    Having said that, I see my own absurdity, that fame is desirable to satisfy my ego's need for attention, that status brings rewards.

    But I see in Michael's life that celebrity can bring loneliness and pain. TO be revered may make us irreverent to our humanity.

    So I am sorry for Michael's death. He is a creation of our society and of my perceptions. I will endeavor to see the talented man who sang in the popular song, "We are the World."

    Each of us can make a small contribution to change society because we are the world. Let us sing together and create harmony.

  2. Hi Leonard,

    Thank you for your wonderful comment. I actually like the way you worded the message better than the way I did.

    Your last paragraph really resonated with me. Each of us can make a small contribution to change society because we are the world. Let us sing together and create harmony.

    That is, I believe, the key to solving most of the world's problems! :-)

    Take care and create a great weekend!


  3. Thanks Harry I enjoyed reading and reflecting on this! And I very much agree with you.