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Archive for September, 2010

In a Perfect World

In honor of an event scheduled this month in Los Angeles, California, I’d like you all to take a little trip with me – to an alternative universe – a universe where right outweighs wrong and wrongs can be righted with the power of positive, empathic thinking. So, if you are ready, “Beam us up, Scotty!”

This is your roving reporter, “with a child’s heart.” Let me set the scene for you. We are all gathered in front of the courthouse in Santa Maria, California for an unprecedented event. Through the efforts of many people from every walk of life, we have come to the same courthouse that once saw a miscarriage of justice to erase that memory from the human consciousness. Although the ultimate miscarriage did not occur – he was exonerated, after all – the fact that he was put on trial to begin with was a combination of abuse of power, unscrupulous conspiracy, manipulation of witnesses and evidence and abrogation of the civil rights of an individual of considerable standing in the community. This unwieldy combination of factors contributed in large part to a remarkable man’s death.

We are gathered here to repair the rift that occurred within our own souls – and the soul of our world – as a result of our silent partnership with those indicted in the fourteen matters brought before this court. The spirit of the man who was the subject of this malfeasance walks among us, free now of the human encumbrance of a physical body, but still very much present and recognized within each and every heart beating within the members of the crowd gathered for this momentous occasion lining the road to the courthouse three and four deep.

They stand silently; their heads bowed in prayer and somber, respectful remembrance as several large black vans approach and come to rest at the curb. Exiting the large chauffeur-driven vehicles are the members of his family who have been invited to witness the events taking place on this, the last day of the hearing. For several months, they have sat in a cordoned area in the main courtroom listening to evidence and testimony in this most unusual hearing. The results of this proceeding will see no one placed behind bars and no real monetary punitive award. No sentence will be imposed. This trial, if it could even be called that, has an entirely different purpose – to make amends and set a record straight.

The People of the World vs. The State of California has been a benchmark in judicial history for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that no sentence will be imposed. The plaintiffs as well as the defendants in the case far outnumber those lining the approaches to the building on both sides of the street. The number of indictments includes a who’s who list of law enforcement officials, public elected officers, music industry executives and print and media representatives starting at the very top of their respective food chains and filtering down to the very bottom. It is a sober event and a grave undertaking and is being taken very seriously by all involved.

An even more sobering realization is that the people assembled outside the courthouse in Santa Maria represent only a small sampling of gatherings taking place simultaneously in major cities around the world. In public squares and malls in London and Tokyo, in Madrid and Madagascar, in Kuala Lampur and Brunei, massive jumbotron video screens broadcast the events as they transpire in the small rural community in one of the most beautiful and serene locales in the United States of America. In each public area the world over, eyes are closed and prayers arise from the hearts of those assembled in silence to hear the results of the hearing. It is a major global event due to its groundbreaking purpose and the manner in which it has been conducted – with the utmost respect for the human beings involved and for the man who was the victim of the events that culminated with this hearing.

For the past several months, testimony and evidence has been presented to the judge and jury establishing culpability in the death of the unique, artistically-gifted and irreplaceable human being who is being honored in silence the world over. Thousands of documents – including contracts and wills and agreements between the principals in each of the fields represented within the courtroom – have been presented. Testimony from the principals and previous accusers has been heard. Each of the exhibits presented provides proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the life of this globally-renowned and well-beloved humanitarian and musical legend was threatened, that his sanity was impugned, that his financial empire was embezzled with malice aforethought, that his integrity was maligned and that his life was sold to greedy opportunists far too cheaply.

The People of the World have come together not to seek revenge for these heinous crimes against one of their own, nor even for what could be considered justice. Rather, they have instigated these proceedings only to realize a belated and long overdue acknowledgment of mistreatment from the culpable. They demand nothing more ominous than an apology and removal of the taint of calumny from the name of their hero.

They demand repeal or modification of the Shield Law that currently allows a journalist to hide dishonesty and malicious intent without accountability. They demand enactment of a new law named after their hero, The Michael Jackson Truth in Journalism Law, which would make the publishing of untrue, unverified or unproven reportage a criminal offense. They demand a governing board comprised of ethical journalists empowered to police media and exact heavy monetary fines and incarceration for offenses against the Ethics in Journalism tenets with escalating fines for repeat offenders. They demand a licensing agency for print and broadcast media representatives similar to those which oversee doctors and the legal profession and with similar oversight authority. They demand sanctions against law enforcement officials and elected public officers who allow personal feelings to color justice within their jurisdictions or abuse the power of elected office for personal reasons.

Today is verdict day in Santa Maria. After months of hearing witnesses and testimony, the jury’s decision is about to be heard around the world. As the jury shuffles past Michael Jackson’s family seated within the cordoned off area, each of them glances at the three children seated with Mr. Jackson’s family. They quickly drop their eyes to the floor, unable to sustain eye contact with them in their guilt and shame at the presentations they’ve witnessed in this courtroom.

After the verdicts in the fourteen indictments are read by the judge, he dismisses the eight men and four women with his thanks for their impartial deliberations. Then, he makes a statement that is carried by satellite transmission to every corner of this planet:

To Mrs. Jackson, while I know that these deliberations will never be enough because they can never replace your son to your loving arms, we the people of the State of California, offer you our heartfelt apology for the malpractice that occurred in this very courtroom. We know that these proceedings will never bring your son back, but we hope that you will take comfort in knowing that no other human being will ever be put through what your son endured again.

To Mr. Jackson’s children, again nothing will ever bring your daddy back to you and the State of California recognizes and regrets its part in robbing you of his presence in your life. Please know that we, your neighbors, will do our level best to protect and honor you – as he would have – as you move forward knowing that your daddy was a good man who didn’t deserve the treatment he received at the hands of those indicted in these proceedings, who benefited mankind richly and who loves you very much still. Although his love is less tangible, it is still there and we, your neighbors vow to make that love tangible in every way we can.

To Mr. Jackson’s siblings, we, the people of the State of California acknowledge our culpability in contributing to your brother’s early demise and we offer our hands as neighbors and friends and beg your forgiveness.

To the people of the State of California, it is incumbent upon all of us to atone for the sins we have committed against this family, against the world and against ourselves.  Let our state be the first state in this great Union to recognize that when we sit idly by and allow one of our number to be harmed, ALL of us are harmed. The only way we can make adequate reparation is to re-commit ourselves to our Founding Father’s ideals, to honor and protect this family and to make sure that such a malfeasance of justice never occurs in this state again.

To the people of the world, while we mourn with this family who has lost one of its members due to negligence and willful enmity on the part of some of the people of this great state, we want you to know that from this day forward The Michael Jackson Truth in Journalism Law will protect our brightest and best from being exploited in a similar fashion. The legislature of the State of California has enacted this bill into law as of this date.  Also, from this moment forward the Shield Law, so blatantly abused in Mr. Jackson’s prosecution, will no longer be carte blanche for unscrupulous behavior on the part of any journalist in this fair state. Please know that while the few managed to win against the many in the case of Mr. Jackson, this state will no longer tolerate such an outcome. We, the people of the state of California stand firmly on the rights of the individual, even the rights of individuals thrust into the spotlight by great wealth or great talent. The publishing world is put on notice with these proceedings to walk with more care in our midst. All of our citizens have the right to privacy, the right to fair treatment and the right to presumption of innocence as stated in our Constitution. These rights will be enforced in the State of California.

These proceedings are concluded.

The reporters present in the courtroom shuffle noiselessly from the room and exit the courthouse wondering how these decisions will be enforced. It is patently obvious from their demeanor – their facial expressions and body language – that they do not agree with the verdicts; they show no remorse. They have been effectively hamstrung and reined in and will no longer be able to get away with character assassination and medialoid murder.

The decision of the court in Santa Maria is only the first step of an exceedingly long journey – and the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow – but that first step has been taken. Of course, all of these verdicts will have to be ruled upon by the appellate process and by the state’s highest court to determine constitutionality and most of the journalists present don’t think they stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being upheld. At least, they hope they don’t. Their particular brand of diplomatic immunity has just been flushed down the proverbial toilet. To say they are disgruntled would be an understatement.

Nonetheless, they all realize that The People of the World vs. The State of California is a turning point. Never before have so many petitioned the legal system for so little recompense. Never before has an entire state been named as a defendant in such a legal proceeding. Each of them knows that this case will take its place in textbooks and studied in perpetuity for the manner it was conceived, perpetrated, conducted. Exiting the courtroom, they are astounded by the deafening silence. The legal pundits and talking heads are the only voices heard and they echo eerily around the open area outside. Reporters holding microphones out to standers-by for comments are amazed that no one will pay them any attention.  The crowd, still silent, just stares – some sullenly, some pityingly – at the anchors and broadcasters. They don’t seem to care about their fifteen minutes of fame, anymore. They aren’t flattered by the on-air personalities choosing them to speak with. The crowd doesn’t care to go on record. Those who do speak reaffirm the same phrase, “No Comment,” while turning away in disgust.

Finally, Michael Jackson’s family exits the building and walks towards their waiting vans. Mrs. Jackson’s face is tear-drenched, her agony clearly visible, and she approaches some of the waiting throng to give and receive embraces.  Several of those assembled reach out to touch her shoulder or her back or her hand as she passes. Standing before a microphone placed in exactly the same spot that her son spoke to his fans after he was exonerated in 2005, Mrs. Jackson speaks briefly and movingly. “Thank you all for being here,” she says in her soft voice. “Thank you for starting this grass roots movement and seeing it through to completion. Thank you for your support. My son would have been so very proud of each and every one of you, as I am. Now, as we all move forward from today, let’s all remember that my son, Michael, always had one message and that message never changed in the forty years of his career. He was the message. He IS LOVE. He would not have wanted revenge against those responsible for his pain. He would have wanted to heal the injury that caused their unaccountable enmity against him, the fear that produced the prejudice that has been proven in this court today. We have begun to heal the world today, but there is still much to be done to make his dream come true.  Please, all of you, re-commit today to that ideal.” With those words, she makes her way to her waiting van and climbs aboard to return to her life as a mother and a grandmother.

As the crowds slowly disperse from the streets in front of the courthouse in Santa Maria and the broadcast and satellite equipped vans pull away, a similar scene is being re-enacted in every public square and mall throughout the world. The impromptu congregations break up slowly and quietly return to their lives. They are satisfied that they have done what they could do. They have supported the movement by being there and with their prayers as they’d stood with heads bowed. Each of them cherishes Mrs. Jackson’s words in his or her heart. The People of the World have spoken. And they have made their voices heard around the world. They have come down on the side of right. And by so doing, they have changed the world.

“There’s nothing that can’t be done if we raise our voice as one.”

This alternate reality has been brought to you by “with a child’s heart.” In the words of Jean Luc Picard, “Make it so!”

Jan

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Our Love’s An Ocean

There is a global phenomenon occurring that I think is worthy of attention. I have been perplexed by this phenomenon several times in the past few months and each time it happens, I have to pause and muse. I admit to being somewhat baffled by it; at the same time, I also admit to being soothed, warmed by a peculiar glow when my attention is drawn to it. I have to roll my eyes and chuckle because I know that Michael Jackson is giggling where he is; he’s messing with us and totally enjoying our puzzlement!

I know what is happening. Many of us who are receptive to the vibe are being inspired in the same ways at the same time even though separated by distance. I have evidence of the phenomenon when I open my computer and log on to my favorite sites. I don’t question the phenomenon, itself. How could I when it has touched me so often and with such regularity?

What I am trying to do is reconcile what logic would call ‘coincidences’ that continue to pile up like newspapers on the front porch of vacationing neighbors who have overstayed their scheduled absence. I don’t believe in ‘coincidences’ – to me, a coincidence is God or spirit trying to get my attention, as I’ve stated in previous postings. Instead of doubting the phenomenon or trying to discount it as a random occurrence with no meaning or purpose, I am trying to figure out how this phenomenon is occurring – the mechanics of the thing. Because to say that it is a game of chance – a Russian roulette – just doesn’t make any sense and denies the intention producing the phenomenon. That the deliberate intention exists, I have no doubt. The frequency – and intensity – and regularity of the occurrences preclude such a nonsensical answer. Others in my circle of internet companions are experiencing the same kinds of occurrences. It’s not just me.

There is a shift occurring – and the shift that is occurring is happening to a lot of us on this planet at the same time – sometimes in the same words – and many of us are reacting to it in the same manner. Now, that was as clear as mud, wasn’t it? Let me explain.

I recently talked with an internet colleague on the phone. We were discussing the ideas we had been having – and choosing to bring into reality with our words — about Michael Jackson (my favorite topic, of course.) Both of us are writers and the pieces we had been writing (mine a fictional story, hers a play) expressed many of the same thoughts, the same concepts – although our approaches were somewhat different. We live in separate states, have never met face-to-face and do not converse on the phone frequently. We do, however, visit each other’s websites with a fair amount of regularity (which one would describe, I suppose, as a distant and impersonal relationship.) It was uncanny to realize during our conversation that she had been receiving much the same inspiration as I had been – and at approximately the same time. My fictional story and her play dealt with very similar concepts – and they were concepts that would be described by most casual observers as uncommon at the very least – odd, eccentric, downright lunatic or spooky at the very most.

On another occasion, I wrote an entry and posted it on my little website and another cyber-friend wrote me that she had been strongly drawn by one of the same quotes that had gotten my attention (and upon which I had partially based my entry) and had planned to write a posting on her blog using the same concept, but she had not gotten around to writing her article due to her busy schedule. She envisioned hers going in a slightly different direction. To me, that just makes sense because we all sift information and ideas and inspirations through our individual filtering apparatus formed by our life experiences and belief systems. So, although we both may have had the same concept poke us in the heart – and continue poking us until we sit down and do something about it (Michael is nothing if not persistent) – write it – our articles would not be identical but would share the concept.

On yet another occasion, I had had a few words running through my head like a 747 circling O’Hare Airport in heavy fog and had wanted to try my hand at writing poetry using those words, but I hadn’t been able to get my efforts to express what I wanted them to say. After several attempts to bend the words to my will, I shrugged, threw my poor attempts in the trash and moved on. Several days after I gave up on my concept (or to be more accurate, decided to come back to it later), I visited a friend’s website only to find that she had written a poem using the same words that had been in a holding pattern over my head for weeks. She had gotten those words to dance for her. The astonishing thing is that her poem expressed exactly what I had wanted to say with them! Not roughly– not approximately – exactly! The tone, the emotion, the pain, the pathos, the inquiry, the pleading, the concept were all there.

A feeling akin to a low voltage electrical shock went up and down my spine when I read her poem. It was so what I had wanted to be able to express! Even the photograph used to accompany the poem was perfect!

This phenomenon has been occurring with such attention-riveting regularity since June 25, 2009 – and is escalating as time progresses — that I can only surmise that we are all catching a vibration that is being transmitted without radio waves or satellites, transmitters or receivers. We are all “drinking the same Kool-Aid” as one of my friends would say. I can only assume that these inspirations are coming from the same place that Michael Jackson claimed his came from – heaven or on high or the cosmos – or from Michael Jackson, which is the same thing, now, in my opinion.

The feeling reminds me very much of the state of mind I inhabited in the 1990’s, when I first became attracted to Michael’s music and began to discover the human being – the heart and the soul – behind it. At the time, I devoured everything I could find that he had been involved with in any way, collected music and performances, read every book that mentioned him, even in passing, and immersed myself in Michael to the exclusion of all other interests, pastimes or hobbies. Then, the allegations! My first reaction when I heard the news was, “Oh, my God – this is going to kill him!” And I knew in my heart that I had to DO something! Those who have read Collector of Souls on this website know that I did, indeed, end up doing something. I’ve talked about the events that occurred before.

What I’d like to express, if possible, in this article is the emotion I was experiencing at the time. It was overwhelming! It was totally illogical and made absolutely no sense at all. Nonetheless, I felt like he needed me! I hear my readers thinking. “Yeah, right! Michael Jackson needed you!” I know, as illogical – even delusional as that sentence may sound, it was the strongest feeling I had ever had. I felt that in some strange fashion, he and I were sharing some kind of deeply spiritual connection – an awareness, for lack of a better word – one that couldn’t be explained, perhaps – but a connection that I couldn’t deny. He may not have been aware of that connection, but I was! Perhaps, someone else could have talked, argued or cajoled herself out of the feeling, but I couldn’t. I could only act on that connection, which I did.

Through the ensuing decade that strong feeling of connection – of union at a deep and unseen level – only increased in intensity. I wrote stories in which I placed love in Michael’s life as he toured the world with his HIStory Tour in the guise of a little, green-eyed angel by the name of Angelique. The odd thing was that I actually fervently believed that I could reach out through her to comfort his aloneness and isolation, to tickle his playfulness, to bring him peace, to support his mission – using that awareness connection as a channel, a tunnel through which my love could heal him.

The feeling never went away until I, myself, denied that such a thing was possible and stopped believing in it. Of course, I was helped in this denial by circumstances in my real life (as opposed to my secret life as a Michael Jackson wannabe groupie) that went a little crazier than normal. I denied the connection because I allowed doubt to enter, because I listened to those around me who told me that “such things are just not possible” – that it was all in my “imagination” – that I had manufactured that sense of awareness out of a “hormonal or chemical imbalance.” I sabotaged the connection in my ignorance of the mechanics at work.

I talked myself out of the most rewarding and spiritually fulfilling interlude I had ever experienced. And I so missed that connection when it was gone! I prayed so earnestly for its return. I tried to force it into submission, but failed miserably in the attempt. My words were gone. My heart that had filled those words with so much empathy and love and spiritual sustenance was gone. My soul seemed to have taken a leave of absence during which he needed me again – desperately – and I wasn’t paying attention enough to support him with my prayers for his safety and well-being in the stories and articles I was no longer writing.

Then, June 25, 2009! Can you imagine my guilt, my desperation, my longing for a do-over? At first, I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be true! But it was and I was abject in my misery while still trying to perform the duties my life circumstances had handed me with as much efficiency as possible.

Well, that feeling has returned – the one that I didn’t think I would ever feel again – that connection or awareness or spiritual union – or whatever one could label it has visited me once again. Perhaps, the urgency is a little less intense, but it’s the same feeling. And I am so grateful to be given “just one more chance.” Please, God, I won’t blow it so spectacularly a second time.

Perhaps, a more apt analogy than that of sucking a vibration out of the ether without benefit of hardware or software designed for the task of downloading those vibrations would be that we are all islands in an ocean of L.O.V.E. Separated by geographical location or generation or life circumstances, we are acquainted through the information super-highway. We’ve never met and have seldom spoken on the telephone, but we know each other at a deep level because we share a sensitivity to these ideas bombarding our shorelines. There’s been no back story, no personal history, no prior spiritual relationship between us. The tide of inspiration that washes each of our shores has the same source – the ocean of L.O.V.E. that isolates but, at the same time, unites us, touching each one of us. If we are open to the compulsion, we are bathed in that tidal wave of inspiration as it washes ashore on our sandy beaches and then ebbs back into the ocean only to return with stronger force to permeate the sandy beach of our souls again. We drink from it thirstily, allowing those revelations to have their way with us, simmering and hibernating until they are cast forth in articles or poems or fictional stories or case studies or music or paintings or whatever form our particular talent, life experiences, belief systems, passions call into existence. “And the whole world abounds in magic!”

The same ocean touches the shoreline in Oregon and San Diego as the one that washes the beach in Hawaii and Japan and Australia and Mexico. Each takes nourishment from it and redistributes its wealth to fill its own individual needs, filtering its richness as it washes the sands clean. Although we are islands – separate – we are joined in that ocean of L.O.V.E. – and we are moved in various ways to express that communion within our lives, to acknowledge it, to recognize it for the blessing it is, to be grateful for it!

It is common knowledge that when Michael Jackson was preparing to produce a new album, he wrote far more songs than he could ever use and would choose from among the best of them for inclusion on the disc, leaving many unreleased. One of the songs rejected for the BAD album (1987) was a lovely, ballad called Fly Away. Later, he gave the song to his oldest sister, Reebie (Maureen), for her to sing on her album, Faithfully Yours (1993?), with his voice singing background vocals. Later still, the song was released with Michael’s voice singing both background and lead vocals, as it was originally intended, on the Special Limited Edition of BAD. I often wondered what the verses meant. The lyrics read:

Our love’s an ocean
Give me a notion cuz
You know I’ll never part
I love too hard
Our love’s a season
Give me a reason cuz
You know I’ll never part
Our love goodbye
And together we’ll fly
I’ll give you my heart
No place too far for us
We don’t need it
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Fly away
Gonna stay
Love today
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Baby don’t make me
Fly way
Gonna stay
Love is here to stay.

Now, so many years later, a light dawns and I begin to see a more in-depth meaning to the lyrics. I’ve always loved the song, itself. The melody is lovely. Michael’s voice as he sings the first verse at half tempo without accompaniment of any kind is heartbreakingly, stunningly beautiful and his backing vocals are a song by themselves, as is true of so many of his backgrounds, the harmonies rising and falling in time with the melody.

“Our love’s an ocean” indeed! We are all drops within the ocean; we are all islands washed by that same ocean. In so many of his songs, I see deeper meaning now that he has embarked on his next assignment for the One who placed the seas in their chasms and the firmaments in their domes. Many of his songs speak directly to us, his fans, to his relationship with us and to our confusion or dismay at his absence. We were the major love of Michael Jackson’s life for his entire journey on this planet, as he told us many, many times.

What other musical artist sends pillows and blankets sailing out of hotel windows (after signing them, of course) because his fans camped outside might be cold and uncomfortable? Who else has pizzas and hamburgers delivered to the crowds below his balconies because we might be hungry in our long vigils? I guess it makes sense that he would leave us little hidden messages that, coincidentally, answer some of our questions in his music and lyrics – messages that we would, perhaps, not pick up on until now when our hearts and souls require his healing so very much. “Our love’s an ocean” and he still speaks to us as the waves ebb and flow over the beaches on the atolls of our hearts and souls.

The communication is subtle, but very real. And, Dear One, we are so grateful for your continued presence among us and your music in the battering of the surf against the cliffs of our doubts.

Jan

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