Tuesday, July 07, 2009


“It feels good to be thought of as a person, not a personality.”

-- Michael Joseph Jackson, 1958-2009

I'm of two minds about the public memorial service for Michael Jackson. MSNBC keeps talking about how it's getting close to "showtime" and that there are performers, including (possibly) members of his own family, which makes it feel sordid instead of respectful and reverent - but is that my own prejudice speaking out? Who am I to put a restriction on anyone else's expression of grief? I simply pray that it will be a celebration of the life of a remarkable, if tortured, man and that it will be respectful and sincere rather than self-aggrandizing. I pray that tributes will be tributes and not self-promotion. I think I’d like to see folks singing his music rather than their own.

One of our librarians put it well when she called it a "cultural event,” which is how the media is viewing it as well. They're so fascinated by all the celebrities who will be attending/performing, and quantifying the number (30) and type (5 Rolls Royces) of vehicles in the motorcade as if an ostentatious display of wealth indicates a greater outpouring of love than 7 guys going to their best friend’s funeral crammed into a ’78 Olds because they don’t have gas money.

I guess it’s the spectators on the street and those watching by TV that interest me the most – our voyeuristic society at its worst and best. Are they truly there to be a peripheral part of a mourning public? Have they fallen prey to a false sense of grief brought on by the iconic celebrity status of the deceased? Are they there to be part of a global event? Are they there to watch grief and catch a glimpse of celebrity? Do they really care, or are they caught up in a mob mentality?

I can’t fault folks who simply want to be a part of a truly global event, myself included. There is an internal drive in all humanity which longs to be part of something greater than ourselves, and this international phenomenon will certainly unite countless individuals around the world even if it’s just for a brief moment. That is a powerful desire in our spirits, to be sure.

So I will be one with my world and take part in an event that is larger than myself.

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