Thinking About Michael

by Judith Rich on June 28, 2009

One of my favorite blogs I read almost daily is Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish.  Here is his column on Michael Jackson.  He pretty much sums up my thoughts:

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age – and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours’ and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.

I hope he has the peace now he never had in his life. And I pray that such genius will not be so abused again.”

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Posts about Andrew Sullivan as of June 28, 2009 » The Daily Parr
June 28, 2009 at 5:02 PM

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Catherine Coy July 12, 2009 at 6:36 PM

I’m glad I got to read Andrew Sullivan’s piece through searching the Internet for some proof–any proof!–that Michael was understood even a little bit. Michael’s speech at Oxford in 2001 was a window into his soul, yet it got absolutely no press coverage, for reasons that Mr. Sullivan so eloquently opined: “…with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, [this culture] chewed this child up and spat him out.” I hope you will search YouTube for the audio of “Michael Jackson Oxford speech” and come to know the man a little better. He deserved so much more respect.

Gregory Joseph July 14, 2009 at 6:18 AM

I wrote this a few days ago. I wasn’t planning on sharing it , well, here it is …
I have to admit that I was humbled greatly
The other day. The day that I heard of Michael Jackson’s
Transition. While I still do not know the cause. It is irrelevant

I received a transmission from a friend. The Video on
Utube was the singing of the song ‘We are the World’
I wept in semi silent tears of humility.

I had sometimes judged Michael for what was said about him, not
For his contribution. What brilliance he was! He lived
His genius talent! He did what I am teaching. He did it
Outrageously. He was Outrageously Michael.

He also paid many heavy prices along the way. I have known
Some, but have not walked in his shoes.

“We know what it is to feel oppressed or imprisoned
by thoughts which repeat in us the fears, traumas & insecurities
of the past. Those old beliefs tax us heavily, robbing our joy and vitality.
Most cling to these old ways of being for the security that they represent”

Powerful words by Sai Maa. I have enjoyed Michael Jackson’s songs
With great vigor. Beat it, Billie Jean, Heal the World, Black and White,
and of course My all time favorite… We are the World, as sung by a host
Of outrageously talented singing stars. I was taken by their heartfelt participation.

They participated it seemed to me 1,000% they were in their Genius Talent!
I am once again inspired through compassion that I feel with a man, that I
Never personally knew. His work has touched me spiritually. Satisfied me
Emotionally, physically pleased my senses, and mentally entertained me.

He has created a definitive moment in my life. For when we are affected
At the four fold nature of man, Mentally, Physically, emotionally, and Spiritually,
A definitive moment occurs, something that changes our lives forever.

Love is the only thing that I can think of to send to Michael and all whom he
Touched or did not touch with his Genius. ‘We all get to go’, we all get
To participate in this game of life. We are all contributors.

Whether to openly evoke Genius in others, inspire others in more subtle
Ways, evoke compassion in masses of people, it is still compassion. It is
Still joy no matter how it is delivered. I equate Michael Jackson to the Tsunami,
A wonderous turmoil that had genius and destructive powers, both ultimately
Creating some the most intense moments of human compassion recorded into history.

I am humbled. I am more compassionate than ever before. I am more loving
Than ever before, I am more centered than ever before. I am in deep gratitude, more
Than ever before. I would like to say, Thank you Michael! And a heartfelt
Thanks to everyone that I know and don’t know for choosing to be in this
World now.

Judith Rich July 14, 2009 at 7:17 AM

Wow, truly inspired! What a beautiful message. I hear your heart and passion loud and clear.
I love your description of Michael as a “Tsunami, a wondrous turmoil that had genius and destructive powers”. How sad they were self-destructive powers.
We’re going to be pondering his contribution for a long time to come. I doubt if we’ll ever truly be able to know who he was. Hopefully, we’ll ultimately come to appreciate the genius he was and treat his legacy with the respect he never got in life.
Thank you so much for this comment.

Sarah July 15, 2009 at 9:54 AM

I always liked Michael Jackson’s music. Who doesn’t have a MJ moment in their life? I think most of us can recall a time when we heard a song on the radio, in a club, driving around town that just made us feel good. Made us feel like dancing. Made us feel the magic of pure talent and heart. I loved MJ’s early stuff and some of the stuff in the 90s. However, as time went on, I too saw the headlines, the weirdness, the controversy and I didn’t give him much thought. I guess I kind of wrote him off as just an eccentric weirdo with a lot of talent. I think If I really gave it thought I felt a little sad for him, but I didn’t think about it often. Then he died and that all changed. I’m not sure what happened or when it happened, but all of a sudden I started to care deeply about his life. I know we live in a time or 24/7 gossip news, but I rarely watch t.v. so it wasn’t that that sparked my interest. I’m really not sure what made me feel so compelled to understand him. But all I can say is that since his death I feel this need to understand his life, his struggles, his pain. It’s an odd feeling.
Over the last few weeks I’ve spen some time watching old interviews on youtube and watching backstage footage just trying to see some of his spirit. I want a glimpse of the real Michael Jackson. Not the superstar. However, how do you separate the man from the superstar when that is all he has ever known? I think therein lies the problem. I wonder if anyone ever told him how valuable he was as a HUMAN, not a star. It’s obvious his father puts great value on money and stardom. And I just wish someone would’ve sat him down and told him that he is just as valuable and beautiful whether he sells 1 album or 100 million albums. I really feel like the circumstances in his life contributed to the “perfect storm” ending. He was shy, sensitive, abused, talented, wealthy, insecure, lonely and a perfectionist. When you add those things together you come up with what made his seem like “wacko jacko” to outsiders. His sensitivities, and insecurities about his looks, coupled with constant abuse from his father is a recipe for disaster. There are many people who experience things similar to this, but not many people who are superstars and make the kind of money Michael made. So that removed all barriers. He had none of the financial barriers that most of us have. Most of us can’t afford to have multiple plastic surgeries and pay for constant help. I also think that he was so lonely he surrounded himself with “yes” people who probably didn’t have his best interests at heart. But he was lonely so he paid for the company anyway. And he was a perfectionist who couldn’t stop. He was a powerful force. No one could stop him on his path. I’m guessing he probably immersed himself into drugs with that same obsessiveness. They made him feel good, numb, strong…………at first, anyway. My sister has battled a prescription drug addiction for 10+ years and as I look back on some of MJ’s later interviews I can see similarities in his eyes to when my sister uses drugs. It’s that glazed, out-of-it look that I recognize in both of them.
Anyway, I am deeply saddened by the later parts of his life. I hope that he can rest now and I hope that his children are OK. I just wish he had had a friend tell him how special he truly was……and not in terms of entertainment. Who knows, maybe someone tried to do this, but maybe it was too late for him to hear it. Maybe his ears had already been closed by drugs and a sad fantasy world. I’ll remember him from his early days when he seemed full of excitement. When that sadness, even though it was lying dormant inside him, seemed a smaller part of his life. Who knew it would take over everything? There was one interview in particular that made me smile. I think it was from around 1982 or 1983 and he was outside his Encino home. He was talking while sitting next to a fountain and his face was so full of wonder and life. What a beautiful spirit. He danced and laughed and talked about being inspired by the moon and nature. That’s how I want to remember him.
Anyway, I’m still left to ponder what this all means to me. Why is my heart so attracted to this life story. I was so caught off guard by my interest in this person’s human experience. I still have to figure out what this means to me. What is this trying to tell me about my own spirit, my own life journey. That is where I need to spend my time next. Thank you for your thoughtful site.

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