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24. Our Quest to Protect Michael Jackson's Legacy

Never did I imagine that with the death of Michael Jackson, my faith in humanity and my belief that people are basically good, would be shaken to the core. I’ve been a fan for decades, but since his passing I’ve been thrust into his world, and as a result, that’s exactly what happened.

As the details of the injustices he encountered came to light, so did the awareness that a dark side of humanity exists; a reality he had to deal with every day of his life. I’ve been haunted by that awareness ever since.

We’ve come to see the truth that he conveyed in some of his songs. There really are people who will "sell their soul just to get the story told" and there really are people who will do "anything for money." I figured the basic goodness in people would kick in and the sensationalism he so often spoke about would stop after he passed away. I thought people would take his children’s feelings into account and think twice about how their actions may affect them. I thought journalists would have more integrity than to promote claims that can’t be confirmed or denied by him, since he is no longer here to do so. Naïve? Perhaps.

Before Michael’s death, most of us were able to take the malicious things written about him with a grain of salt. We could read them and shrug it off to being just another tabloid story. It’s much harder to do that now that Michael’s not here. Now we take it personally. "You’re just another part of me" rings true for us. Now it’s as if we are the ones being attacked.

Have you ever heard that old saying kids sometimes recite: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?" Whoever came up with that saying was sorely mistaken. As the fans, friends and family of Michael Jackson can attest, words can and do hurt. In fact, Michael Jackson has become the poster child for how badly words can hurt. Words can affect a person’s sense of worth, a dangerous thing to play with. Words can break a man’s spirit and words can hurt a man’s legacy. That’s why the fans have taken on the responsibility of "protector of Michael’s legacy."

We’ve taken the stance and acted on the belief that, "there’s nothing that can’t be done if we raise our voice as one." Some fans are creating petitions, becoming activists, and trying to shut down anyone perceived to be betraying Michael. However, in taking on the role of "protector," are some of those actions inadvertently hurting his legacy?

I have been a huge proponent of carrying out Michael’s message of L.O.V.E. I’ve worked hard to keep myself and others focused on love instead of hate. Yet when this latest tabloid story about him surfaced, all that went out the door. It’s hard not to get angry when someone you love is being taken advantage of. I was so full of anger at the people responsible for it, and like so many others, I voiced my opposition to it.

It wasn’t until I saw the reaction of my family when I snapped at them for no reason, that I realized how angry I had become. In This Is It, Michael Jackson said, "We have to put love back into the world." I know that was important to him and I take it very seriously. Yet, in that moment, my emotions got the best of me. I realized that I was not putting love back into the world in that state of mind. I was putting hate into the world.

I sat down in tears wondering to myself how Michael was ever able to deal with all the injustice done to him. One negative story comes along and I become angry at the world, but he had to deal with this for much of his life and yet his love for humanity never waned. How did he do it?

Some might say the answer is to turn the other cheek, but that is easier said than done when someone you love is being attacked, lied about and taken advantage of, especially when they have no voice to defend themselves. However, anger can lead to resentment, and in the words of Carrie Fisher, "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." It hurts you far more than it will ever hurt the other person.

Does the old adage "an eye for an eye" apply here? Isn’t it only fair that those who were and still are hateful toward him experience what it feels like to have words hurt? Maybe then they will stop? Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. In fact, that will probably put them on the defense and cause them to do it even more. Plus, if we do that, aren’t we engaging in the same behavior that was directed at Michael Jackson?

So what is the answer? I still believe the answer is to stay actively engaged in loving Michael Jackson instead of hating those who don’t. It’s the only way to get your power back. Love is infinitely stronger than hate. That’s why he always advocated L.O.V.E.

Will the hurtful words toward Michael Jackson ever end? Don’t count on it, but next time one surfaces, I will remember that when only one side of the story is being told, it’s sensationalism. Those kinds of stories say more about the source of the story than the subject of the story.

The best thing we could ever do to protect his legacy is to preserve the love that it is based on. In doing so, we show the rest of the world who Michael Jackson really was. We preserve it by making sure his music lives on for generations to come, by carrying on his work to make the world a better place, and by uniting together to put love back into the world, like he wanted.

The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait is committed to being a tribute of L.O.V.E. and we strive to provide a positive place for fans to actively engage in their love for Michael.

Will you join us in uniting together in L.O.V.E. to protect and preserve his legacy no matter what comes our way? Our community here is the perfect place to keep it pure and positive. As one dot member recently wrote: "We lost Michael, but found each other."

Lots of L.O.V.E.

Linda Higgins

Director of Community Development

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