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30. What Michael Jackson Taught the World

As I sit here writing this on the seven month anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, fans, friends and family are still struggling to come to terms with why someone so special had to be taken from this earth so soon. In my opinion, there is only one way to make sense of such a tragedy and that is to look for the meaning behind it.

Michael felt he had a higher purpose to his life, which was "to unite the world through love and music" as he stated in his autobiography Moonwalk. I agree with that, because there are many things about his life that points to him having a higher purpose.

Endowed with phenomenal talent that manifested itself at an early age, he saw it as a gift from God and he felt he was meant to cultivate it and use it for the greater good. In fact, he viewed it as a sin not to do so.

His dedication to his craft allowed him to create global success unmatched by anyone else; which also made him the most famous person in the world. Being known by virtually everyone throughout the globe, indicates to me that something greater is at work. Gladys Knight once said in an interview about him: "Not many people are allowed that much fame." Therefore, the fact that he was able to amass such fame shows that whatever his purpose was, it was meant to affect the entire world. She also helped us realize that with great gifts, comes great responsibility: "To whom much is given, much is required," she said.

Some of the gifts he was given to help him fulfill that purpose are evident. They came in the form of talents. He was a brilliant entertainer who brought joy and happiness to millions of fans with his extraordinary music and dance. He has influenced so many people with his creativity and talent. Musicians are inspired by him. Dancers want to imitate him and songwriters want to create with the same sensitivity.

Other gifts are not so obvious; they came in the form of challenges. Challenges he had to endure in order to reflect back to us lessons we were meant to learn. He was given the challenge of a condition that changed the color of his skin. He had people from all races criticize him for that, yet he was one of the few people who honestly embraced all races. The irony of that reveals a lesson in itself. Could that be why he was inspired to write the song "Black or White?"

He was also given the challenge of not having a normal childhood, which caused him to compensate later by creating Neverland. That opened him up to criticism from those who misunderstood his actions. What each person saw in Neverland, whether positive or negative, reflected a perception they had already formed about him.

Albert Einstein once said, "The most important decision we make, is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe." Your answer to that indicates how you interpret events, circumstances and people. It is the reason why one person is able to experience an event in a positive way and another person experience’s that same event in a negative way.

The same concept applies to Michael Jackson. Although millions of people loved his music, many of them didn’t embrace him. They made up their minds years ago when things about him were sensationalized by the media. Therefore, when he was charged with those horrible allegations, much of the world found it easy to believe, because the perception of him had already been shaped in a negative way.

It was during this time that he experienced some of the darkest days he would ever encounter. At a time when he needed people to be there for him most, not very many were. Yet, through it all, he never lost his love for humanity. Again, here was someone able to see nothing but good in others, yet so many people couldn’t see the good in him.

One heart wrenching moment during his memorial service would change that forever though. When Paris said goodbye to her father, it was her words that allowed the world to see that he was a loving, caring human being. "Ever since I was born," she uttered, "Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just want to say, ‘I love him…so much’."

It was then that the world hung their heads in shame as the realization that he had been falsely portrayed came to light. Her emotional goodbye to her daddy was enough to open hearts in a way that let people know there was more to him than met the eye. From that point on, people became obsessed with learning the truth about him, which led to the shocking discovery of all the injustice he had encountered.

There is guilt felt by many people now because we had no idea of the extent to how badly he was treated. It was only after he died that we became aware of the depth of it. We now ask ourselves, if we had known then what we know now, could we have made a difference somehow? Unfortunately, we will never know, but I feel strongly that he had a higher purpose to his life and that we are meant to learn from it, otherwise his suffering will have been all for not.

When he was alive, the world was too busy judging the messenger that his message couldn’t be heard. The lesson we are meant to learn, the message he tried to convey while he was living, is to care for humanity; to treat people with dignity and respect, because when you do, love grows.

When you find the good that exists in another person, you begin to feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she opened the door to a world fill with color. You see them through different eyes, the eyes of Love. Love is the ultimate truth, so when you look at someone through those eyes, you are seeing the truth of who they really are. Once that happens, it becomes impossible to judge them in a critical manner anymore, because their true essence has been revealed to you.

The more you look for the goodness in others, the stronger the love within you grows and the more you are able to spread it throughout the world. That love compels you to treat everyone with kindness, caring and compassion. He knew that. He saw the good in everyone, but unfortunately, not everyone was able to see the good in him, until he died. Therein lies the lesson.

I believe Michael Jackson fulfilled his purpose, because he taught the world that love is the answer to all that we are. As you find the good that exists in others, you discover the love that exists within you. It’s only then that you can help make the world a better place. The real tragedy is that it took him having to die in order for us to realize it.

Lots of L.O.V.E.

Linda Higgins

Director of Community Development

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