Inner Michael » Michael and Shadow

Michael and Shadow

If they say why, why? Tell them that is human nature. Why, why do they do me this way?” ~ © “Human Nature” Porcaro and Bettis performed by Michael Jackson, Thriller Album

Michael Jackson’s music indicates that he may have understood a lot about human nature. When asked questions about how people viewed him and characterized him, he said he supposed it was human nature and that it came with the territory of fame.

Michael’s ministrations and nightly phone calls to the sick child from wherever he was in the world and while on tour, kept the boy fighting for his life through chemotherapy. It kept him alive. What child wouldn’t want to hang on for a personal play date with Michael Jackson at Neverland Ranch? And what parent would veto that? Parents were invited to come along with their children on tours and appearances in exotic locations and in the best hotels. And if your child gets well in the meantime, who would want to leave quietly and give up that kind of privileged lifestyle?

Shadow is the dark side of human nature that we’d all like to deny: Shadow is what causes us to do wrong and justify it; shadow is catering to the ego of self at the expense of others; shadow is treating someone differently by some obscure definition; shadow is being unscrupulous in how we make money; shadow is acquiring something of value on the backs of others; shadow is wanting or taking something that doesn’t rightfully belong to us. Greed, envy, malicious gossip, professional and personal jealousy, unexamined and untamed anger, false pride, conniving, scheming, retribution and a self that is out of integrity and acts from there, all come from human shadow. We all have shadow; we’d all rather not.

We have an idealized self that we aspire to and want to believe that we are. We never quite measure up to that ideal self. We idealize others and put them on pedestals and we are angry and condemning when they fall from grace. We mask in order to keep shadow from reflecting on us and we project it onto others to hide those undesirable qualities from ourselves. We will do cartwheels to keep ourselves from exposing, acknowledging or revealing the dark part of ourselves. We use unhealthy means to divert our attention from the darkness that lives within and we use up a lot of energy hiding.

When we accuse others, judge others, point fingers or call names, it is our own shadow that is at work. When they are obviously: “ignorant,” “stupid,” “immature,” “a loser” or any of the other judgments that condemn, that’s our shadow talking. Highlighting those characteristic in others is an attempt to deny them in ourselves.

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror; I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer: if you wanna make the world a better place, look at yourself then make a change.” © Sideah Garrett “Man in the Mirror” performed by Michael Jackson

Michael is asking us to begin healing our own shadow so that we don’t project it into the world and onto others. The “man in the mirror” is the individual shadow of shame and embarrassment. When denied or repressed, unhealed shadow springs up and brings us some form of punishment: failure, loss, isolation, misery, depression, relationship schisms, addictions, missed opportunities and other ways that we unconsciously punish or invite doom. Unexamined and unhealed shadow makes us feel unworthy or unlovable and that is what plays out in our lives.

There is another shadow that often goes unnamed and unexamined: the collective shadow of humanity or the vector of everyone’s shadow. This shadow inhabits the field and encapsulates everyone in it. It is the invisible dark soup that we live in but don’t see. It may express as cultural traits, a national pastime, a diversion, a meme, a preoccupation, a trend, an ism that lives in the collective sphere of influence. This collective shadow sometimes coalesces and is projected onto others in the form of: public disdain, an enemy or country conveniently become a target, a politician we love to hate, a celebrity whom we have placed on a pedestal who now has disappointed us, a public figure fallen from grace, a notorious criminal we can loathe, the political assassin who took a beloved from our camp forgetting there is another camp, an organization that is caught in scandal… and many others. We can heap our disowned shadow on the figures of situations conveniently convincing ourselves that “they” and not we are shadowy loathsome characters.

The target of shadow, deservedly or not, is something or someone we love to hate, ridicule, scoff at, be disgusted by, point fingers at, accuse, hold in contempt or shame, call uncivilized or barbaric, or any number of dark projections designed to aim more away from self than to cast onto someone else. We exact judgment, even unwarranted, and we look for evidence to support that judgment. We relish a scandal because it takes the heat off us.

We like to “bring down uppity women;” we delight in ”making them eat crow; “taking him to task;” “watching them sweat’” “holding her feet to the fire;” “cutting him down to size.” and any number of ways that we mentally even the score imagined as unbalanced in our own minds. Shadow delights in this gladiator sport.

Shadow keeps criminals in business, corporations hiding mistakes, critical recall information secret, car manufacturers from reporting safety risks, drug companies from exposing side effects, tire manufacturers from revealing flaws, organizations fudging reports, companies from revealing hazards, environmental problems from being rectified voluntarily, and people from saying “I was so very wrong!”

Visible collective shadow keeps yellow journalism alive, and keeps tabloid press spewing vile and toxic sensationalism. Our shadow keeps questionable media in business. When not owned and projected onto others like groups, institutions, celebrities, politicians, shadow is hurtful, harmful and mean spirited. Shadow wounds. It wounds deeply and irreversibly. Shadow shows no mercy. Why? Because it wants to bleed its victim. It is blood sport. Yes, shadow kills.

Michael Jackson encountered a lot of shadow in his lifetime:

“Like the old Indian proverb says do not judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins. Most people don’t know me, that is why they write such things in which most is not true. I cry very, very often because it hurts and I worry about the children—all my children all over the world, I live for them.

If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.

Animals strike, not from malice, but because they want to live, it is the same with those who criticize; they desire our blood, not our pain. But still I must achieve, I must seek truth in all things. I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world, for the children. But have mercy, for I’ve been bleeding a long time now.” ~ Michael Jackson (circa 1995) written on hotel stationery.

Michael Jackson was one of the most visible, prolonged and known targets of collective shadow on this planet. Michael’s interest was in cheerleading humanity and teaching people that they could “make the world a better place” if they embraced bright shadow within themselves. Bright shadow, the opposite of dark shadow, is the inner being’s highest potential. It’s the Divine Blueprint. Michael embraced his own Bright Shadow whose outlet was his creativity.

Michael took on shadow and recruited others to come and shine instead alongside him. A humanitarian who truly believed that it was within humanity’s power to change the world, he kept on message throughout his life. A champion for the world’s children, he visited hospitals and orphanages all over the world bringing gifts and money to improve their conditions. Neverland Ranch hosted disadvantaged children every month, those vacations a reminder to inner city, ill and disadvantaged kids that there is more to the world than pain, that fun and hope are still alive and that they might escape their conditions. But mostly Michael wanted children to know that an adult who made it to adulthood with his inner child intact, cared deeply about them!

Michael did not share the world’s cynicism about adult-child relationships. He saw and cherished the innocence of children. He understood children because as an adult, he was not so far out from childhood that he forgot how children think and feel. A sensitive empath, Michael suffered a huge emotional reaction to what happened at Columbine and wanted to prevent another occurrence. He was invited to speak at Oxford University and given an honorary degree. In his Super Bowl performance Michael highlighted children from all over the world—every culture, color and ethnicity. Michael was often photographed within crowds of children.

When the world’s shadow descended on him it was sinister. Michael found himself accused of the darkest shadow behavior that could betray the innocence of a child. Two families driven by personal greed impaled Michael Jackson with the one thing that would do the most harm to his heart. Instantly bastardized in “breaking news,” a media panting at the magnitude of the story, pandering to the cult of celebrity, titillated by scandal and gleeful at filling a 24 hours news cycle with the downfall of a “king,” they focused non-stop on the most visible and wealthy person on the planet. It was the same kind of voyeurism that stops to stare at injured or dead victims of auto accidents—the fascination with witnessing some kind of morbid demise or decay.

A review of trial transcripts, legal filings and checks on reputations and backgrounds of attorneys and officials involved reveals much about the motive of all, including Micael’s accusers. A close look uncovers prior extortion attempts on other celebrities and corporations as well as documentation of a threat to destroy the star if he refused to bankroll ambitions of parasitic parents whose children he befriended, some while they were gravelly ill.

Michael had dangled the carrot of a visit to Neverland to a boy ill with stage IV cancer who eventually became an accuser. Actually the boy refused to testify against Michael asserting he had done nothing wrong. It was the boy’s father who brought charges. He had asked Michael to bankroll a career shift fom dentist to screenplay writer. Michael refused.

Three different grand jurys said no to prosecutors who wanted to try the 1993 case that was eventually settled out of court by Michael’s insurance company over Michael’s objections.

Prosecutors and news media made a huge deal of Michael hosting children in his “bedroom.” What they failed to explain about Michael’s “bedroom” was that it was actually a two story suite within his mansion and not only did he host children there but their parents as well. “Sharing your bed” in Michael’s world was in the spirit of Friday night popcorn and movies and Saturday morning gatherings where children pile into our beds to talk, giggle, ask questions and let us in on their otherwise secret lives. Michael and other adults slept on the floors or on couches. There’s an intimacy in bedrooms that allows for this kind of connection. It’s a family intimacy that is not “adult” in content, nor sexual, or sinister. Michael’s own children joined in these movie nights and sleep-overs. How many of us could withstand an accusation about ours or others’ children that we might host in our two story home? In our vacation cottage or camping tents? How many of us could survive it through a very public and worldwide frenzy?

The District Attorney who prosecuted both cases interviewed hundreds of children and their families even going out of the country to try to find the “dirt” on Michael Jackson. There was none to find. How is it that Michael was charged on ten counts yet he was found innocent of all charges? How does that happen? No convictions? Not guilty on even a single count? What Michael Jackson was accused of just didn’t live in his world, but it apparently lived in the world of the D.A. who brought the charges on both cases.

Does it reach beyond “duty” when a District Attorney refuses to give back seized belongings, saving them for ten years? When he can’t find anyone to corroborate the charges or incriminate either locally or in this country so he goes around the world looking for those who would accuse? When he continues for a decade even after not finding even one child more? Men who prey on children are serial offenders. Is it overkill to send 70 deputies with a search warrant to swarm over a sanctuary for children? To search and photograph every corner of someone’s private life and world looking for evidence of something to hang on a man beloved in every corner of this globe? How many of us could withstand that kind of obsession and sweeping invasion?

Who is next? Where will our blood lust take us now? Who will we cannibalize tomorrow? Whose private life will we want exposed? Whose sexuality will we arrogantly demand revealed? What have we done? What have we lost? How can we make it right? We can’t. It’s too late. “This is It.” The man is dead. Shadow wins.

The charges against Michael didn’t surface until after the Martin Bashir documentary that painted him in the worst possible light. Michael expected Bashir to expose his heart and the real Michael Jackson to the world. A shy person who avoided public speaking, Michael was uncomfortable with interviews or speaking out. Michael was only comfortable performing on stage. He was convinced that a journalist with sensitivity and scruples could set the record straight about him. It is well known that Bashir gained Michael’s confidence and then left the kind, magnanimous, humanitarian, normal and doting parent who was Michael Jackson on the cutting room floor. Bashir manipulated a trusting Michael and led him to slaughter with a tabloid-style documentary. Michael himself was a film buff who had filmed the entire series of interviews with Bashir so he was able to release what Bashir had maliciously bastardized or omitted. But the damage was already done. The documentary gave Michael’s accusers opportunity and they pounced.

Children did flock to Michael; they did follow him like the Pied Piper. Children are not fooled. They know when adults have hidden motives. They know when they feel “icky” around certain adults; they avoid them. Children liked Michael and longed to be close to him because he embodied the unabashed joy and wonder that children feel slipping from them as they realize they are soon expected to grow up. The world in demanding that we all grow up and abandon our inner child loses something important—the innocence and simplicity of childlike authenticity. Children know who cares and who doesn’t. Children clung to Michael because he represented something gossamer that they felt slipping from them. Letting go of childhood is painful; it’s traded for the despairing reality that we don’t much care for the world we are inheriting. And we don’t especially care for the adult mind that we are being asked to become. Are we all so far out from childhood that we don’t remember?

Michael often said that he would never refuse attention to a child who needed him. He might have been guilty of not understanding the cynical mind, of not being able to predict the worst case scenarios, of naiveté`, of trusting the wrong people, of not understanding contemporary social and political culture because he was so isolated and insulated but his motives and humanitarian efforts were genuine and unequaled. Michael gave so much and shared his time with children simply because he could. He had the means and the heart to give children experiences that he never had. Michael allowed children with illnesses or special needs to travel with him to give them the excitement of hanging out with a superstar, introducing them to the world, and watching achievements that they could someday aspire to. He took his visibility and its responsibility and his position as role model very seriously.

If you wanted to destroy Michael Jackson, the surest way to do it was to accuse him of harming children. It was simply not in him. The destruction was emotional, psychological, career damaging, financial, devastating to image and reputation and very, very personally wounding. The damage to Michael was irrevocable. The shadow’s reach was gigantic because Michael was known and beloved all over the world. The shadow the world projected drowned him. It would have immediately killed a lesser man. Maybe it was the beginning of his dying.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world wondered what America and its media was doing to this kind, sensitive and generous humanitarian. The conclusions? America is a dangerous place. America delights in shadow. Americans relish destroying their national treasures. America’s media is drinking the Kool-Aid.

The reporters at the trial were legion. What trial were they attending? Which one were they reporting on? When Michael was found innocent of the charges on each of ten counts, the news organizations were stunned into silence. How could his innocence have been so unexpected? Was there any clue that the man might not be guilty? What story were they covering? An invented tabloid story? Or the truth?

The real tragedy of this dark and sorry example of collective human shadow is not only what it did to Michael who was apparently innocent all along, but to the children who, in the future, would never benefit from a day at Neverland… the children who couldn’t be inspired… who wouldn’t ever know a world beyond their danger-filled “hood,” who now could not be saved… because Michael had to declare on advice from counsel “I will never again allow myself to be in such a vulnerable position.” He never went back to Neverland. In fact, he didn’t go back to America.

Michael never saw the shadow coming. It didn’t live in his world until it loomed up to impale him in the most vulnerable of places—his generous heart. Would you see the shadow coming? Will you stand and face it with integrity when it comes for you? Will you stand at all? Will you keep your composure while they draw blood and suckle at your life force?

Is the shadow still at work in the world? Is it still focused on Michael Jackson? Well, yes it is still at work; and no, it’s no longer focused on the man himself because he’s no longer here. But his artwork is. The shadow now falls on Michael’s collection of art while recruited pundits perform psychological autopsies and “diagnose” a client they’ve never seen. Michael’s art is filled with cherubs who represent archetypal bright shadow in the works of the masters; with whimsical creatures who resurrect imagination; with mystical figures who communicate beauty and divine essence; with history’s most brilliant and larger than life characters who inspired Michael to reach within to find his own genius, divinity and brilliance. Prominent in the portraits is Michael himself. He had the artist paint him in. Michael embraced his God given talent and knew himself to be a divine child so he commissioned it in his art. It’s what Christ and other world teachers told us to do. And there are some pieces with shiny faced children who are riveted on a single figure who is doting on them, reading to them, nurturing them, leading them and cherishing them. That singular figure in the portraits is Michael Jackson.

Were we all to embrace our Bright Shadow, we would all shimmer with light and resolve to make the world a better place. If we would but reach into the mirror for our darkest shadow and grasp what we find behind it—we too would dress that emerging sacred hand forever in a sequined glove. For it would grasp our brilliance and bring it through to here, to now. Our shadow, the wounded part of us that feels unloved and unworthy would no longer be the lost child. Once acknowledged, cradled and transformed by embrace and not abandonment– L.O.V.E.– it would find life. It is in the juice of that dark cocoon of shadow that the milk of nourishment awaits the transfigured butterfly that flies free and beautiful.

The world lost a treasure when it lost Michael Jackson. The biggest loser in this story of collective dark shadow is …. us. We, as the collective, have lost something somewhere that was essential, something that encouraged us to be alive and not deadened inside, something innocent and fresh and beautiful and God inspired, something that sparkled, something that spoke the best of our species, something patient and silent while waiting the final word, something that could embrace the lonely waif in another only looking for acceptance and love, something democratic and generous and willing to believe, something brave that doesn’t succumb to fear, something that demands truth, something with human luster. Something like… say, the world’s greatest and longest cheerleader? Go humanity. Go team.

We allowed this to happen. We let the shadow hunger for tabloid secrets and lust for a voyeur’s peek at a larger than life figure. That taste for carnage killed both Princess Diana and Michael Jackson. We wanted someone to chase them, to revel in revealing their secrets and humanness, to gawk at who we think they are being that we are not. And when we realize what we have done, we will re-summon more of our own shadow to make excuses. To justify. To make light of our complicity. To explain away our culpability, to protest and declare our innocence.


  1. Anonymous said . . .

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. I have admired Michael since his start with the Jackson 5. I distinctly remember when I first heard of the allegations thinking "that's not possible". True, I didn't know him personally, but I believe the genuine artist reveals himself in his art and his life. I believe in his innocence absolutely, that I would stake my life on it. Just as there are evil people in this world, there are also angels among us. Michael, I believe was just such an angel. It is eerie to see his life now in retrospect. The young Michael becomes the most beloved entertainer in the world only to be persecuted by people with evil agendas. It is heartbreakingingly sad and seem to have religious overtones. I try and read all the positive articles I can find on Michael to see if others feel as I do, and am happy to say there seems to be more and more people beginnig to realize what we as a human race have lost. God bless his sweet soul.

    Posted January 25, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink
  2. Teresa A. Cooper said . . .

    I do agree with what this anonymous person has said and I have been a child of the 1980’s and remember seeing Michael many times on television. When I first saw the allegations against such a beautiful man I thought it could not be true. I remember so many things about him and I am glad that the Jackson family sticks together. I think America has a lot to learn about justice and the Democratic and American way. We are living in a country that believes in freedom. Everyone’s freedom. The Declaration and the Bill of Rights were written by our forefathers for reasons which still exist to this day. May the priviledges of our great nation never change. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness mean everything to all Americans. Michael will be remembered and go down in history as one of the greatest giving souls the world has ever known!

    Posted May 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink
  3. Karen Schneider said . . .

    All of this is so true. Michael was so full of bright shadow, of light, and of Love, that it raised in some a need to cover that brightness, to destroy it, else they would have to look in the mirror he held up and see their own dark shadow, their shame. Looking back to the trial, it is so obvious who is/are the villian(s) in the story. Watch Michael, and feel Truth, and suffering, and strength, and innocence, and wisdom. It was so clear. It is so clear.

    This idea that we allow our shadow selves to take control, to enjoy anothers’ suffering, to need it in some way in order not to have to face the call of our own spirits to live up to our potential is what we MUST face in ourselves if we want to change anything in this world. Michael knew this, and lived it. One so spiritually wise and alive was torn down, kicked and beaten, and literally left for dead. We the world have so much to atone for. And we individually have to start now, to overcome this shadow that we’ve let rule society, and our lives, for too long. We have to fight it! We have to be spiritual warriors, ready to bear the arms of LOVE and LIGHT to fight the darkness in our own souls, and in the world at large. Michael taught me this; Ms. Kaufmann, you take the lessons that he transmitted straight to my spirit and put them into words for us to understand and fuel ourselves with. God Bless you both.

    Posted June 14, 2010 at 2:58 am | Permalink
  4. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    Light of Pureness and Love shines and miracles happen. I’ve witnessed this. A heavenly glow that reflects upon the soul a oneness. A mirror shines the light of God & Love.
    Love Always* Souldreamer7

    Posted March 14, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  5. Kathy Guzman said . . .

    This is an Excellent article….Just had to let you know…

    Posted December 23, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  6. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks, Kathy.

    Posted December 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *