Michael Jackson, of course, was a huge entertainment icon of our generation. He sold millions of records, broke records and barriers, and won many awards.
At the same time, Michael Jackson was also human. A fact he was acutely aware of and that he spoke about often.
Michael was a man of God, a man of faith, someone who had a mission and a vision for affecting change in a world that has, in many ways, become apathetic. That is one of the reasons he was revered and loved all over the world. Many people saw that light inside of him.
In these days of media frenzy and all of the stories we hear about Michael Jackson, many throughout the years that have been sensationalized or just downright untrue, it's hard to at times, separate fact from fiction.
Michael in Moonwalk and other interviews, spoke very much against drugs and alcohol and how he was raised as a person of faith.
In the days since his passing, I have tried to make sense of the stories of prescription drug addiction which had me the most confused. Especially from all the research I have done on Michael and in doing so, in what type of person I found him to be....gentle, caring, loving, spiritual, a man of faith, humble and giving. I have wondered how someone so vehemently against drugs and so into health and holistic measures, could end up in the very place opposite of what he stood for. I did not wonder this out of a sense of disrespect to Michael, but rather out of a sense of wanting to know how he ended up in a place he never wanted to be, and this came out of my own growing care and concern over him as a person, a human being, from all I have come to know about him, and appreciate. He had even spoken of having conversations with others about different "fallen" stars and how drugs had ruined them and he admitted being very curious as to what would cause the person to go in that direction because he couldn't fathom or believe that it was the same thing each time. That they would each end up this way.
But as I thought on it more, I thought about several things. Michael's life was a very difficult one strewn with pressure, high expectations, loneliness at times, being misunderstood, all while possessing the most incredible, multi-faceted talent we will ever see. That is one heck of a lot for one person to have to deal with. He also suffered from 2 auto-immune diseases and suffered greatly after the painful burns to his scalp in the Pepsi commercial filming. Add to that falsely being accused of horrendous things and a 5 month child molestation trial.
What I have realized, is that Michael, in his humanity, had times of making mistakes, of falling, just like the rest of us. This could happen to any of us, we have to remember that. How many people are addicted to cigarettes, for instance (which is basically an addiction to the drug, nicotine)? How many of us are addicted to food or sweets or reality shows? We all have our struggles. If it turns out that he indeed struggled with an addiction to prescription medications, he would not be the first. Some of the medications given out are highly addictive and even people without any prior history can become seriously addicted. It also, if true, does not make him a bad person. It simply makes him human and as a fellow human being, he had struggles just like the rest of us, and in some ways, endured more than many of us can imagine.
I think so many times in someone we hold in high regards especially, or someone we see as a celebrity, we can tend to feel let down when we find out something that might be unfavorable. We can also tend to become judgemental and somehow expect superhuman qualities in celebrities when in fact, they are more like you and me than you might imagine. When we look at our own lives, we all know that we personally slip up. Every single one of us. Should we not give others the same grace and understanding that we would want for ourselves?
Michael admitted himself that he sometimes didn't like the way he looked. I don't think you could find one person on this earth who hasn't felt that way at times. His skin color change was due to his vitiligo and that alone changes a person's appearance dramatically. Isn't that something to have compassion and understanding for and a desire to help, rather than something we should want to ridicule? When we see others hurting, we should want to blanket them in love and caring rather than ridicule and condemn.
There is something endearing and wonderful when someone opens up and risks being transparent. When we risk the possibility of looking a fool or being open with our true feelings, our fears and doubts, our humanity, we pave the way for others to be open and honest and express who they truly are as well. I think that was one of the things most endearing about Michael was that very quality. Putting himself out there and risking it even when it was completely uncomfortable for him. Risking putting his thoughts and ideas out there even though some of those thoughts and ideas seemed in opposition to our all-grown-up-now mentality. There always lies a risk in being truthful, honest and open. Michael seemed open and honest to a point where he admitted thoughts and feelings many would not be comfortable with and many would not admit in fear or being made fun of. Some did ridicule and condemn. I have found that most often those who ridicule others who are open and honest, are deep down, afraid of openness and honesty themselves.
I think that was one of the things most disarming about Michael. Here was this icon, this celebrity who had achieved worldwide recognition, and yet, deep down, he was just Michael Joseph Jackson, the human being.
He openly shared his feelings and very human thoughts and struggles through his writing, his lyrics, in interviews. He was open and honest. I think that's what takes people most by surprise and what some can't seem to come to grips with. Some want him to be somehow "different" than the rest of us. We hold him to higher standards. We ridicule. We can't seem to accept that he was a fellow human being who needed love and caring, who wanted to be loved and cared about for what was in his soul, and not for his celebrity. A human being who wanted to be known on a deeper level and whenever he tried to do that, he was betrayed by those he trusted.
How did we try to meet his needs? We bought the trash magazines, we listened to the tabloid news shows and we bought all of the garbage. We further drove him into seclusion. We criticized him mercilessly. We stopped listening and didn't take time to get to know Michael Jackson the human being and focused too much on Michael Jackson the King of Pop.
In an interview done with him, Michael admitted being so lonely during the highest point of his success (during Thriller, Bad, Dangerous) that he would go out into the streets looking for someone to be his friend. When he would find someone and ask them if they would be his friend, their reaction would be "Oh my god, it's Michael Jackson, it's Michael Jackson!" He then went on in the interview to say that that's not what he wanted at all. He wanted someone to be his friend simply for himself, and not because he was Michael Jackson the celebrity. I find that so crushingly sad to think about because it shows that human nature sometimes can be focused on all of the wrong things. We adored and clamored from afar, but when approached, all we could concentrate on was his fame, rather than his soul.
In the end, what should matter is all of the good that he did, looking at his heart and his pure desire to help others, seeing the beauty that was within, and accepting and forgiving his humanity just as we would want done for us.
In my opinion, Michael was a beautiful person inside and out and he did his best to live out the beauty that was inside of him and in the end, who we are inside and what we do with what God has given us, is what will change the world, affect others' lives, make a difference and be our legacy. Michael's legacy still shines bright because he dared to share who he was inside with all of us. He dared and risked being transparent even if it wasn't easy for him and was something that may not be received favorably. He hurt and felt pain because of it, though many forgot that he was, in his own words, just like everybody else. He hurt and he bled. He was...wonderfully human.