Inner Michael » Only Dignity honors Michael

Only Dignity honors Michael

I have been receiving urgent letters from Michael Jackson fans this week that all have a tone of emergency, of discourgment and of dismay. They are concerned about what is happening on and with social media by people who claim to be Michael Jackson fans and who are spewing hatred and anger at other fans, and at Michael’s family as well as anybody who dares to challenge or disagree with them.

All the people who wrote me this week have asked what I think about it and have pleaded that I try to do something about it. My appreciation and loyalty to the fans and others who come here dictates that I must say something about what is going on. So I will. I have some thoughts and questions to consider:

Bullying is bullying whether it is on the playground, in church, in the media, on Facebook, Twitter or over your backyard fence. Michael Jackson was bullied his whole life by… record companies, “handlers,” other entertainers, late night talk show hosts, tabloid media and TV, “friends,” employees and former employees, acquaintances, professional colleagues, other musicians, suit-happy legal representatives, occasionally family, and yes… fans.

Hysteria seemed to play a big part in Michael’s life and it appears that his death is not changing that. Has that hysteria now swept away the fans? Now fans are bullying other fans and those who work toward the preservation of Michael’s legacy. Fans are now bullying Michael’s family including his 81 year old mother. Really? His elderly mother? Please! Michael Jackson adored his mother; she is the matriarch of the black first family of music. The woman lost her son! She is trying to parent minor children left to her by a son who trusted her judgement enough to entrust the most precious thing in the world to him– his children!

The Jacksons have had their differences, their triumphs and heartbreaks, their moments in the sun and their moments in the darkness of the abyss. People are human and when they are hurt and wounded, they lash out. Sometimes they lash out at those they love. We have all done it.

Families have their fights, their dysfunction, their squabbles as well as their moments of joy and celebration. Love, and in particular close love or sibling love has its ups and downs. Just like any other humans, they make mistakes, they argue, they defend, the love– and they do it fiercely.

Who among us cannot identify with that? Life is not always easy and when people go through difficulty such as divorce, death, change, attack, and undeserved heartbreak, they get emotional. People blame when they are wounded. It is human nature. Relationships that span long periods of time have their ups and downs, their estrangements, their reunions, their agony and ecstacy. This happens in close professional relationships too. When people are upset or wounded they say things they don’t mean.

When a loved one dies, they often wish they could take back the insults, the accusations, the mean spirited actions and often would give anything to have a chance to do it over or even to say “I’m sorry.” And some people just cannot handle emotions at all– others’ or their own. People cope with whatever coping mechanisms they have and they dont always cope well.

And who are we to judge? Who are we to blame and shame? Fan or not, we do not “own” Michael Jackson, we do not “own” his family. We will always be outsiders in their affairs; we will never know the “whole story,” and we hold no legitimate power to make anyone do anything. And that is as it should be. What we can do is exercise compassion and empathy in an attempt to understand others’ behavior and our own feelings. And when we can’t at least do that, we can exercise restraint. If there is pain and anger and hysteria on the outside of the circle, imagine what is happening inside to those who can call Michael a loved one. We may not like what someone says or does but bullying them for it only makes it worse and makes us… well, bullies. It is hypocritical to call someone else foul names, to behave badly and spew hatred and then criticize others like attorneys, talking heads and the media for doing the same thing. When people speak about their experience, it is their perception not your perception and it is legitimately they way they experienced that event whether or not you experienced it the same way. Perception is an individual thing.

Michael Jackson fans who are loud, obnoxious and hateful do not represent all Michael Jackson fans and they would do well to remember that. Those who are reasonable, loving and try to handle things in a mature and rational way are doing incredible work behind the scenes that doesn’t always get recognized. So the media, quite predictably gives attention to the loudest and most obnixious– why? Because that perpetuates the opinion, the meme that “Michael Jackson fans are crazy.” The media loves to portray Michael as “wacko” and his fans as “crazy.” So those who are loud, obnoxious and hateful play right into the media’s hands. If you think this is helpful to Michael– it is not. If you think it helps his legacy, it does not. If you think this helps his children, it does not. Michael’s children are watching; they observe and what conclusion do you think they come to about the fans? Do you think they feel they can trust the fans? Do you think they feel that the fans “have their backs?” It’s bad enough you have lost your father, and that you have to now deal with the awful things “they” called him and said about him. Next you have to deal with his fans who call your family and grandparents names and say hateful things. What would you conclude and how would you feel about your fathers “fans” who claim to love Michael but who bully those Michael loved? Who bully, period?

The Conrad Murray trial is going to be difficult; it’s going to be emotional. The media is going to revisit some places you’d rather they not go. Michael’s children are going to be traumatized and wounded once again by re-living the whole thing. Katherine and the rest of the family are going to be forced to re-live the whole thing. And they are going to be in the center of the frenzy. It is not helpful to anyone or to Michael’s memory to behave in a way that Michael himself would not and would not condone. Michael practiced love and forgiveness and he tried to do that even with the people who hurt him most. Michael Jackson never bullied anybody. Michael Jackson held his head high and behaved in a dignified way even in his darkest moments.

Dignity is the only thing that honors Michael Jackson. Dignity.


This article is reprinted from the Inner Michael’s Mirror column at Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait:

What drives you? That’s not a fluff question. It’s important to know.

Why do you find yourself in Michael Jackson’s circle? Why do you care? What do you want to see happen with regard to Michael Jackson? Are you here to change the world? There are many reasons for being or becoming a Michael admirer. If you are in the Michael circle, you are his legacy.

For many people who grew up with Michael Jackson in their lives, his music and lyrics, his work and life gave them a lifeline in the midst of nihilistic circumstances and existential despair. Michael’s music and his lyrics, in particular, seemed to provide a bulwark for the internal fortress where they dared to hold hope. Michael helped some through a life that seemed meaningless or pointless and even hostile. Michael Jackson, it seemed, was one person in the world who “got it.”

In the act of growing up, one must pass that milestone that intersects childhood and adulthood. The view from there is not always pretty. Nor is the idea of having to be completely responsible for oneself in a world that seems indifferent and unsupportive. Wanting to “Peter Pan” it is understandable, given the alternative—becoming “adult.” Beyond that painful intersection and a short distance past the entry into that territory of adulthood, the security blanket of forgiveness conferred onto “naïve” youth is ripped away. Now the child has no choice but to navigate in a world that looms big and bewildering.

That stage in a life holds a kind of painful nakedness and realization that, from now on, the world and one’s interactions with it will be different. There is no instruction manual, and expectations have changed. It’s another pushing journey through another birth canal— and the final severing of the umbilical cord of carefree youth.

The world from that view can look anything but friendly or nurturing, and there are stark realizations awaiting the traveler who leaves the realm of imagination and magic to enter the world of “responsibility.” Suddenly, the world is not what it seems or what one believed it to be. The loss of innocence is a painful experience on the road to adulthood. It leaves a wound.

Some children who were never nurtured or protected, or who grew up without a father, adopted Mr. Rogers, Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson as a protector or father-figure role model for their lives. Some saw Michael as the only sane person in a world of despair, weaponry, war, racism, and all the other isms that divide humans. He was the one person who understood that love was the answer to every problem. Michael brought sanity, gathered people together, and united the world in ways that leaders and politicians couldn’t.

As long as there was Michael, the world was somewhat navigable. And then he was gone.

A world that saw Michael Jackson as being forever, was set reeling. From Moscow to Manhattan, people mourned the passing not just of a man, but of an era, of a kind of ephemeral safety net that would catch one if all else in the world failed them.

And yes, he is irreplaceable. Yet he is not appreciated for the genius and visionary that he was—not yet. And then there is the reality of how he died that was unjust, senseless and unnecessary. There is the idea that the world was not ready for him, misunderstood him, and treated a treasure so cavalierly and abominably it is shameful. It was as if the world had no anima mundi—no soul.

There is an ecosystem that is frequently overlooked—the mental atmosphere in which we live. We live in a world with prevailing attitudes that make up a predominant mind-set. There are metaphors that come close to describing what it is—perhaps mental weather or dominant attitude, the mental sphere, collective consciousness or the “mind soup” we are immersed in. The soup in which we live is a real ecosystem. It is a vectoring of all the minds in the world, or the collective consciousness.

Lynn McTaggart calls it “the field.” Rupert Sheldrake calls it the “morphogenetic field,” and still others have similar names. This collective mind-set or field is created by what we humans of the world focus on—and the mental impact of our experiences are thrown into the mix. This field impacts all of us, whether we are conscious of its existence or not.

All human experience goes into the field, and becomes the “weather” we live with through our daily lives. It is made up of fear, anger, joy, trauma, celebration— all the thoughts and emotions that can possibly plague the human condition. Like a computer operating system, it is the basic program running in the background of the world. And like the computer, what comes out is only as good as what goes in—garbage in/ garbage out; love in/love out. You are what you think—in your personal life and in the world. And the world becomes that.

The current situation in the world is one of confusion and turmoil—financial and other fears that raise tribal survival instincts that permeate the field. While there are many gradations of this mental field, for our purposes here, let’s focus on the two most powerful: fear and love. When you focus on fear and what is lacking from your life and the world, you create a mental atmosphere of scarcity or “there is not enough for me.” That immediately generates a competitive mind that compels one to make divisions: there is me and there is “them.” This is what I think, feel, desire, demand, or in other words, my position—and there is “her” position.

When we play that we/them, me/you game, we make people “other” and that justifies pushing them away and making them the “enemy,” and it establishes an ecosystem that supports fighting and war-making. Love, on the other hand, invites, includes and creates a human family. It is inclusive instead of isolating. It is based on mutual dignity, respect, esteem and cooperation.

Which feels better? Which is more nourishing to the human soul? To the soul of the world? To the collective consciousness? Which “weather” or “soup” that the human race lives in makes the world a better place? A friendlier place?

What are you contributing to the world? What attitude do you stir into the soup that we all must live in? Do you come from a place of fear or a place of love? Do you express the tribal aspects of human nature or do you live from your heart?

Michael Jackson was ripped from the world and our personal lives in the most painful way—and in frustration and anger, some lash out because the pain is too much to contain within the psyche. We push that anger and angst onto other people, sometimes even other Michael Jackson fans—those who are supposed to be “family.” We blame, point fingers, curse, accuse and shame. These are not healthy actions, not useful—and they are exactly the places that Michael told us to avoid. His message was about love, not division or exclusion. Even of his enemies, Michael said they didn’t have enough love in their lives. They were living from ego, not from the heart.

The loss and grief associated with Michael Jackson, his life and work and how he was treated in this world, can raise all kinds of feelings—conscious and subconscious. It is important to look at them closely, to look carefully at our own motivations. And if we are coming from fear or anger in our dealings with the world, we are not coming from a Michael place. When we slip into that place of nihilism, it is important to stop, acknowledge that we are wounded, have compassion for our woundedness and treat ourselves well as we start over. Every time we visit that dark place, we can stop and make another choice—to put some love back into the world. That is what makes the difference.

Injustice, treachery, anger, fear and all the lower human emotions cannot exist where love lives. Those emotions cannot occupy a space that is filled with love. How do you empty a space of negativity and despair? Certainly not by adding more of the same. What pushes out the darkness is infusing light and love, not more darkness. Want to light up the world? Turn on your heart light and let it shine.

Maintaining your “Michael mind” is not going to be easy with the Conrad Murray trial coming up. There are going to be many opportunities to be angry and to lash out viciously. But that does not put love back into the world. It is going to take constant self-monitoring, real steadfastness and internal power to fuel a heart that loves, rather than a heart that hates. But consider which is healthier for you? For the world?

While monitoring your own heart, it’s important to have compassion for the places you hurt, for where the world hurts you. And to have compassion for a world that is still in its adolescence looking for a hero like Mr. Rogers, or a Bill Cosby dad or a Michael Jackson that it is ready for, and can understand. It is sad that it didn’t work out that way. But we can demonstrate for the world how Michael’s legacy works when we come from the heart and a place of love.

The most beautiful legacy for Michael Jackson would be for his fans to love, and to keep loving until the world follows their lead. That is simple but not necessarily easy. It takes vigilant self-monitoring, a constant evaluation of one’s own motives and constant adjusting.

The best way to honor Michael’s memory, and the greatest tribute to him that would be worthy of the fans—his legacy, would be to go to the courthouse during the trial and, instead of shouting insults and cursing, just take a CD player and sing his songs. If you want the world to take notice of the fans, to stop calling them “crazy” because of their behavior, give the world an example of Michael Jackson the man. Sing “We are the World,” “Heal the World,” “Earth Song,” “Cry,” “Man in the Mirror “ and all the other anthems Michael sang in hopes of pushing out despair and putting love back into the world.

Change the weather, the mind-set, the prevailing attitude, the morphogenetic field—and change the world. Do it for Michael. Do it for us. Give the world back its soul.


  1. Joslyn said . . .

    Can I share this with the #MJFam on Twitter?

    Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Send them to Inner Michael if you think it will help. Thanks. ~B

    Posted September 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink