Inner Michael » First, Do No Harm

First, Do No Harm

Human beings can do really horrifying things to other human beings. History is full of evidence of human nastiness toward other humans. I have had occasions where I misunderstood people’s intentions or I have been wrong about the motives of others.

When I was in Russia helping to build the social infrastructure and support for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Initiative that would find Russians and Americans collaborating on the construction of a decommissioning facility for chemical weapons, I went to a pub for supper with some new Russian acquaintances. I will never forget the conversation.

Elena: “So how is it, your mind about this country?”

Me: “It is surreal for me to be here. I never could have imagined standing in Red Square; never mind standing in Red Square with Russian friends.

Elena: It was bad the relationship between our two countries.

Me: I was so terrified of you.

Elena: Of me personally? Or my government?

Me: It was all the same thing to me then. I was afraid of all Russians, of your government. Heck, I was afraid of my own government.

Elena: Me too. I was afraid of what my government was doing. And your government was our enemy. It makes you our enemy too but the people knew it was not so.

Me: I don’t think I thought that far. All I knew was terror. I can’t believe what people on this planet do to one another once they make someone “the enemy.” They make them “other.” Or non- human. And how did you live with it? Your government wouldn’t let you speak about it. At least I could speak about it; I could criticize my country out loud.

Elena: Yes, it was a very dark time for my country. But now I am Russian and my country is changed. It is civilized. It’s a free country and I can say anything I want.

Me: You have no idea what hearing that means to me. You have no idea what is happening in my body in this very instant. Let’s make a pact to never do anything to corrupt that freedom. Or corrupt that civilization. Or that civilized freedom. Not ever again.

This is where the irony of that conversation struck me. And I thought about all the many nights I had cried myself to sleep in terror as a child. I looked at the woman sitting next to me and I dissolved into tears.

So now you know that I have struggled very hard to bring civility to this world. In ways that I may never tell you. And you now have an inkling of how precious that civility and freedom is to me. So believe me when I tell you that freedom is one of my highest values and the freedom to say what you want to say is one of those tenets I hold most dear. Because during that conversation with my new Russian friend, and my time in Russia, I realized how important having a voice is, how important it is to have the privilege to speak without threat or censorship. It was a meeting of the minds that I never could have predicted or even imagined at one time in my life.

So let me be clear about how I value that freedom that voice brings to the world.

But let me also be clear that I value human civility. For it is lack of human civility that brought us to the brink of war in the first place. It is lack of human civility that allowed me and countless other children then, and now, to live in terror of the “other.” For it is the misuse of words and the corruption within the misuse of freedom that takes away not only our civility but our humanity.

The words “what ye do to the least of these ye do also to me” were uttered by a Master. A Master of civility, a Master of steadfastness in the face of corruption, a Master of human kindness, a Master with words and a Master of actions. He too learned about freedom and non-freedom to utter truth. He was crucified for it.

So there is something inherently wrong and inhumane about the misuse of the freedom to speak. It was a hard-earned privilege for so many Masters of this world. And for their students. It is simply inhumane and uncivilized to use words to harm, to expose to humiliate, to dismember, to crucify, to ridicule, to sensationalize, to present something so uncivilized that it rattles the sensibility of ordinary souls.

The first amendment and the principles of free speech in the world are not to be taken for granted. But they are not to be corrupted either. To present something just for profit, or just for attention, or just for ratings, or just to be sensational, or just because you can… is also to corrupt that guaranteed freedom.

Regarding the planned documentary showcasing the mock autopsy of Michael Jackson:

Why has the Discovery Channel and Dr. Hunter not featured an autopsy of say, someone like… Princess Diana? Or maybe Tim Russert? Perhaps you could dissect Elizabeth Edwards now that she is gone.

Is that because Princess Diana and Tim Russert and Elizatbeth Edwards are human beings? And Michael Jackson is what… a side show spectacle? The dehumanizing of Michael Jackson in the last number of decades is what makes this kind of  “mockumentary” possible. The media is now scheduled to once again rake in some cash from their greatest cash cow of the twentieth century by carving him up yet again in public and on television.

Hasn’t the media gotten its fill of dismembering this man in public? Haven’t they tabloid-ized and vilified enough, the little black kid from Indiana who dared to make it big in the music business? How many more times can the press and media repeat the accusations made of an innocent man? A man hounded by extortionists? The media among them? And a man exonerated? A man whose heart was so kind it encompassed the entire planet?

How much more sensationalism and cash, can be wrung from one breathing individual? Oh, that’s right, he’s no longer breathing. Sent to an early grave haunted and hounded to death by a media gone to the dogs- a pack of wild salivating dogs who feasted on the life of one of the most prolific humanitarians of our age. And now that same pack plans to chew on his bones and feast on his corpse. There is a name for that and it’s not pretty.

Who can possibly think that featuring an autopsy of Michael Jackson is good programming or good taste for that matter? Or that it is even acceptable in a civilized culture? Oh yes– the same culture that made fun of and vilified a man for turning white from a chronic disfiguring auto-immune disease that completely eats away the pigment of one’s skin eventually destroying all protective cells that prevent death from sun poisoning.

 Oh, that’s right– the same culture that accused an innocent man of unspeakable crimes against children motivated by another pre-scripted “documentary” that was a cynically and deliberately constructed myth on film designed to bastardize a man who opened his heart and his amusement park built especially to accommodate handicapped children. A man who built Neverland in order to give sick, disadvantaged and disenfranchised children at least one, or a last one– wonder-filled and magical experience that because of their circumstances, they might otherwise never have.

It is the same culture that sends artists soaring to fortune and fame and then relishes taking them down one pound of flesh at a time from the pedestal apex they have sent them to. The same culture that made a joke of a man who caught the imagination of a generation who responded to his lyrics that taught them to “Heal the World” and “save it for the children;” the man who wrote a song for the earth and a “be the change by looking in the mirror” anthem for humanity.

 A famous music man who leveraged that fame to travel the world, meet with heads of state and speak to them of peace and starving children and humanity, who marched with their militaries and sat down to dinner with its world leaders.

This same man amassed millions of dollars for the poor and sick in this country and others, who raised a fortune for the families of the victims of the trade center attack in New York on 9/11. The same culture that dehumanized him and constructed a caricature of a person only to sell tabloid copy to a fascinated public unaware they were duped into buying intentional lies and cynically constructed and fabricated ridicule.

Dr. Hunter and the Discovery Channel joins the ranks of the tabloids and the salivating pack that seeks to devour just one more time, the name and life of Michael Jackson and to now “surgically” suction instead of siphon a little more of his life from his body by profiting from his death.

Yes, the culture has come far: Instead of being pulled apart limb from limb by lions in the round of a coliseum in Rome built only for the public spectacle– dismemberment of Christians, we will now watch the simulated body of a man raised a Christian, who danced in the round to spread joy and philanthropy to millions of children be dismembered in the round of the surgical theater.

How very Christian of you, gentlemen. You who take an oath to first do no harm, to preserve the dignity of life and lives. Know that history will record your part in this travesty and future generations will read your name and wonder, as I do, how could human beings do this to other human beings? It is indeed an old form of amusing entertainment.

Rev. B. Kaufmann


  1. Dalia said . . .

    I’m just stopping to mourn after reading this. I have no consolation, I feel much pain, although I know Michael can not suffer anymore because his spirit is where he deserve and he deserve the best, it does hurt when the memory of the being you love and admire is trampled again one more time and again in exchange for money. This is just one example of many cases of injustice in this world because that is human nature, ambition dominates the man and is the mother of all our human failings. Just as there is good and deep love, there is also the counterparty is causing so much pain. Look at the evil of others is very disappointing but it is our duty to continue fighting for that shadow does not exceed all the light of which we are able to project to others. When you see a children’s smile, you realize that humanity is more than this. We deal in the middle of it every day, and you can stop to mourn for a while, dry your tears and then continue looking for the light and building a better world. Michael did and we should do it too. Your words broke my heart. Beautiful post. I love you Barbara.

    Posted December 12, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  2. Simona said . . .

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, this was and is badly needed. Words – thank you for the magnificent use you make of them, Rev. Barbara. Love,

    Posted December 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  3. diana said . . .

    Thanks Barbara so much, for speaking up about the Discovery Channel. I have found a number for ethics complaints to their channel where you can call and voice a complaint. The number is 571-262-4899. I called and I hope others will as well. If they show this I will never watch their shows again. They are very sick people, very evil. how much more will they try to take from him?

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  4. admin said . . .

    Thanks Diana. My understanding is that Branca and the estate are now aware of the program and are on it. Make a little space for hope. Envision it all ending in the light of reason. ~Rev B

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
  5. jeanne said . . .

    Good advice Barbara. I see these types of shows not airing at all and in their place hunger for leaders and greatness like Michael Jackson and leaders with courage with no focus on what is expected and more on what is Needed. I see media start to recognize the power when people come together. I see the media realizing that there is more recognition when they air what is working and realizing this world is tired of what is not working. Most people want that. Most are willing to work towards a better world. Most of us want meaningful purpose in life. I see an awakening of power being not where it once was thought to be, but where it really is… Truth.

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink
  6. Catherine Gross said . . .

    Well… it appears no one cares. I have reached out to others including a well known reverend. They told me it would go on the back burner as it was not important. I was treated like a crazy Michael Jackson fan albeit I presented myself in a very professional manner. It appears that we are in a country that cares very, very little about the psycho/sociological effects on our children. This is the same country that is perpetually asking “why Johnny can’t learn?” Simply said, Johnny’s mind is blown! He has no hope and no reason to try. All his heroes have been mutilated or disintegrated on a page. That includes Martin Luther King, who is being written out of school text books. They murdered Michael with words long before he physically died. Zombied… by the press. So, why bother; the kids see this life as a pointless venture. Gang bang fearlessly! You will be killed, imprisoned, or made into a zombie like all the others who did their best including the president. All I wanna say is they don’t really care about us.

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  7. AnneUK said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara, Have the makers of this documentary no shame? Have they not heard of respecting the dead? When are they going to stop this inhuman treatment of Michael? Do they care that Michael leaves three vulnerable children, children who adored their father. When will there be just one ounce of decency shown? Decency that Michael showed all through his life. If the Discovery Channel feels the need to make yet another documentary on Michael then please let it be one that tells the whole story of Michael’s Life. A documentary that lists all his humanitarian acts, one that highlights his generous and loving nature. To produce this sickening documentary has crossed over the common decency line. I hope the makers read what you have written and are shamed but it would seem that darkness lurks in the corridors of the Discovery Channel. I am glad that the estate is aware of this programme and hope that can stop it from being shown. Thank you once again for being so eloquent with your words. With much love Anne UK xx

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
  8. Dalia said . . .

    I am outraged, I don’t have any idea of what kind of documentary can be that, but I think it is a complete and utter lack of respect for someone who is characterized as someone shy and bashful. Someone who always asked for respect for his privacy. Thanks again Barbara.

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  9. karen said . . .

    I sent a comment to Viewer Relations at Discovery Channel. I agree that this particular program is disrespectful and unnecessary. I voiced my opinion on the matter and am awaiting reply. I hope others will take the time to send messages any way they can. On another note, I am curious as to how many people read Inner Michael. I see a lot of the same people commenting after each these articles. They are very well written and should be distributed as much as possible so the point of view of others may be changed regarding Michael Jackson. Messages are very important, communication is the key. Karen

    Posted December 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
  10. admin said . . .

    Thanks Karen. Working on it. Have you seen the “Words and Violence” Curriculum at Voices Education Project?

    Posted December 14, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink
  11. Sue Springer said . . .

    Thank you so much for this Rev. B. My heart has ached for days now, and I am trying to keep my head in the light. It helped to write to the Discovery International offices today, and I am grateful to hear that Michael’s Estate will be looking into this travesty of “programming.” The analogy to Roman games is so spot on. I keep visualizing the world we all want, but I fail miserably on days when I hear about things like this program. When I realize my weakness in the face of the hurt heaped upon Michael, and Jesus, and Martin, and so many others . . . I am more and more galvanized to risk more and more of myself to help. We have to persevere. Love and peace all, Sue.

    Posted December 14, 2010 at 4:30 am | Permalink
  12. Elizabeth said . . .

    So well written Rev. Barbara. You said everything we are feeling. Will it ever stop. Yes it will because as you have taught us, we leave space for hope. And as Michael’s legacy we are awakenened and will no longer keep silent when we see injustice done. I am comforted to hear the Estate has been made aware of the situation. When I first learned of this, rip the scab was torn off and I had to stop pray and regroup. This is not the kind of people we should be – Michael suffered enough in his life just to give us the gift of himself that God gave him. Please let him have peace in death. We’ve Had Enough.

    Posted December 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  13. lmat said . . .

    Thanks, Barbara. Perfect. I’m holding hope that Michael’s Estate can handle this; there is not a more powerful voice than theirs. I see, once again, that Michael is mirroring to us the most vile human nature possible. Even in death he is teaching.

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  14. admin said . . .

    Exactly. ~B

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  15. admin said . . .

    I want to share a stunning letter sent to me and to Discovery Channel:

    Dear Sirs,

    It has come to my attention that you will be doing a mock autopsy on Michael Jackson. I am not sure that you would want to continue as this may be a waste of your time and money. Allow me to explain…

    You see, we who know and Love Michael Jackson have already seen the dissection of this man.

    From the very souls of his feet we already know there is significant wear and tear from an entertainer who gave more than his all to entertain the world since the tender age of five. We know the wear and tear on those bones already, as we were the recipients of the show. When you get to the knees, we already see the worn cartilage there as well as watching the man fall to his knees countless times for many a reason but mostly in prayer for us.

    When you get to the stomach, we’ve seen the bruises from the sucker punches dealt this man without warrant or cause. And when you go deeper you will find the remains of a small garden as he would not even devour one creature for his own nourishment as he barely took enough from an earth he loved so much for his own sustenance.

    When you get to his back we’ve seen the stab wounds from years of betrayal by those once trusted.

    We’ve seen his heart too and what is more, we have felt this heart and still feel it today in the evidence of all he left behind. And we’ve watched for decades, a heart breaking every time a child was in danger or fear or hurting, and any time a human being suffered in any way. We know how much human blood pumped through it and how it bled for humanity and for all the right reasons.

    When you open his brain we warn you put blinders on (we assume you already have by the mere fact that you are doing this procedure) because here is the brightest light of all. Here you will see an unparalleled wisdom and enlightenment from someone who was many years ahead of his time. Here is where you will find an enlarged organ for creation of art, kindness, generosity, magic and escapism, laughter, compassion, joy, sadness, love, anger fear, confusion, understanding, but most of all… love for all of us and forgiveness for our crimes against him.

    So in conclusion let me just say this autopsy is nothing new because it’s been done—in countless psychological autopsies, in the carving up of his privacy, and in a lack of decency and civility.

    Michael’s body had nothing to hide. And what we discovered was far past the toll on a body that never stopped giving so that we could experience joy. You will find the scars of permanent irreversible damage along with forensic evidence of a sacrifice for our benefit as called him: son, brother, father, and friend. You will not show us by this procedure what killed Michael Jackson. We already know.

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  16. Sue Springer said . . .

    Thank you Rev. B for posting this beautiful letter. I have such love, appreciation and respect for those among us who can write directly from the heart in such eloquent and lovely ways. To you and the anonymous letter writer above, and so many others here, thank you from the bottom of my heart for so eloquently speaking for those of us who do not have that extraordinary gift. Many of you have taken the feelings in my heart that I cannot express well on paper and given them life and wings. I am profoundly grateful and appreciative of all of you. Love and peace, sue.

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  17. Greet Boete Belgium said . . .

    Dear Barbara, I just read this letter. And I wish I could copy it, because I would print it and put it in the most visible place in my house, for everybody to see. I would put it at my work place. It is so beautiful and so true. About your conversation with the Russian friend: it is true, it is our governments, and people that profit from the decisions taken by the leaders, that try to terrify us from each other. Why are some countries always at war? They have big weapon plants. They need the people’s agreement for using taxes for so called “defense. When I imagine all the weapon factories turned into well-drilling equipment and systems to use for the benefit of people in the regions all over the world that need it, war would not exist. If we would share the “defense” money, a part of our wealth with others, why would they be angry on us? A lot of terrorism is caused by injustice and poverty. But I know that you all know this. I just needed to say it, again. What can we do about this? An army, equipped with life saving equipment, instead of destructive material, would be wonderful change. But how can we change that ? Where do we start ? Thank you again for your post. I am always looking forward to read it. And of course I sent a mail and a letter to Discovery and Dr. Hunter.

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  18. admin said . . .

    We begin with our words. They lead to actions. And actions lead to consequences. “What if government gave schools all the equipment they needed and the army had to have a bake sale to buy missiles?” ~B

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink
  19. Kim said . . .

    Wow Rev. Barbara. Let me just say that I am speechless. Once again, your words captured the feelings that are shared by many. I had to wipe away the tears that resulted from what you wrote, in order to read the letter you posted. It is truly a stunning letter. My heart hurts very badly right now. I sincerely hope these people see how very wrong this is. I hope their hearts are open to hearing what our hearts are saying, which is STOP!

    Posted December 17, 2010 at 2:58 am | Permalink
  20. Greet Boete Belgium said . . .

    Well, Rev. Barbara, thank you for your answer about the army having a bake sale. That is interesting. Something to start with. Peaceful Christmas to all of you, and lack of sadness for the next year.

    Posted December 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  21. gertrude said . . .

    I’m making my calls to Discovery and sending my letters and emails. Thank-you very much for that phone number Diana. After that I will be looking at the cost of moving to another planet. At least that’s what I feel like doing because of this FILTHamentary abomination. Is Sony also sabotaging Michael’s new, and WONDERFUL, album by not promoting it at all? The better to steal his catalog from him?

    Posted December 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  22. admin said . . .

    Let me know when the spaceship leaves. ~B.

    Posted December 18, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  23. Latoya Bridges said . . .

    Well, Rev. Barbara, thank you for your answer about the army having a bake sale. That is interesting. Something to start with. Peaceful Christmas to all of you, and lack of sadness for the next year.

    Posted December 22, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink
  24. Susan T said . . .

    Dear Reverend Barbara,

    Such a heart-breaking report. And that letter? I cannot imagine anyone with a mildly-functioning conscience reading this letter and not feeling such shame and disgust. I can “feel” that person’s heartache. It brings you to your knees.

    Like so many of you, I struggle to focus on a positive outcome but at the moment it looks very bleak. I really have little hope for humanity if broadcasting such a de-humanizing program is an example of what we find acceptable. I’ll never understand why Michael Jackson had to endure such a tormented life. I find myself choking on tears to think that people will watch this program. The level of morbid curiosity is so disgusting.

    But… when things appear truly hopeless, we must not be discouraged. Loving prayer is the most powerful force in the universe. Each of us, in our own way, through our own belief system, must unceasingly pray for divine intervention. People often say, “all we can do is pray”– but that’s precisely what we should be doing and IS the best course of action.

    I’ve written but now I will call the number. I refuse give up hope even though everything we look at gives that impression. I refuse to “limit” my God.

    Posted December 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
  25. Mae Whitaker said . . .

    Well, Rev. Barbara, thank you for your answer about the army having a bake sale. That is interesting. Something to start with. Peaceful Christmas to all of you, and lack of sadness for the next year.

    Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:59 am | Permalink
  26. Tracie Wells said . . .

    Well, Rev. Barbara, thank you for your answer about the army having a bake sale. That is interesting. Something to start with. Peaceful Christmas to all of you, and lack of sadness for the next year.

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

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