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Archive for November, 2010

These conversations have been a major hit on this site and have taken a good deal of my time in the last several weeks, so I decided to make them a regular post rather than giving them a separate page. Installments 1 and 2 of these conversations are still up on the Conversations page for those who want to return to them for inspiration or to refresh their memories before reading Installment 3 below. This will enable those who wish to comment to do so more easily.

Week of November 18, 2010 through November 25, 2010

Beloved, I have to ask you this question. What was it about childhood that so fascinated you during your life with us? I mean, I know that you missed out on much of it because you were so busy learning and perfecting your craft, but many of us experienced a stunted childhood (for whatever reason) and were not fixated so thoroughly on it. Why were you so invested in childhood?

Because childhood is so misunderstood and mistreated in our world today. The human race needs to understand it more clearly before it destroys itself through its lack of understanding. Let me see if I can explain.

First of all, childhood is not a time of life that passes within a couple of decades  … it is a state of mind that lingers and influences the entirety of life … like happiness or heaven.

Most of us think that happiness happens to us from the outside rather than something we produce within ourselves. We think that if we just had enough money or enough fame or enough clothes or a better car or the perfect vacation or enough acclaim we would be happy!

I’m here to tell you that this is not true! Look at the extraordinary life I led. I had all the fame any human being could ever want; it was a blessing because I was able to help people on a grand, global scale … and a curse because it made me a target for those who wanted it but didn’t have it … at the same time. I had more money than God, basically; again, it was a major blessing for the same reason … because I was able to share it to produce something better for people that didn’t have enough … but it carried its own curse also for the same reason … it made me a target for those who didn’t have it. My clothes were hand made for me by Bush and Thompson; how much more individual can you get? I traveled around the world eight different times and visited places that many people don’t even know exist.

Happiness is not having or doing … happiness is being … and can be experienced by choosing to be happy and grateful for your blessings in every moment … acknowledging and being grateful for your life and all its wonders is the key.

Many think that heaven is a different place … that when we die, we leave this beautiful planet, Earth, and float into someplace else on another planet or another plane  so they get by day-to-day anticipating that ideal existence that they will experience after death … rather than creating heaven right here and right now. We’ve been taught that we were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Wrong! We never left! We just abused and exploited and polluted it to the point that we don’t recognize it anymore. Heaven is not another place … it is a change of perspective.

The proof of that statement is that I am here … with you … all of you … and all of you feel me, sense my presence in different ways … some through dreams, some through music or dance, some through conversations … but you all know that I am not done with you, yet (and never will be, by the way … so please stop thinking that our communion is going to end … it is not! It may change, but it will not end unless you choose to end it.)

Most of us think that childhood is a time of life that we get through … to achieve our full potential on the other side … a time of learning what we need to know to navigate through the pitfalls that attend adulthood. This is not true. Childhood follows us wherever we go and influences us until the day we die … and after.

One of my commitments was to hold up a mirror on these misconceptions … to show all of you the truth about these myths that the human family has talked itself into believing for centuries.

All of us have been shaped by our childhoods. All of our relationships … all of our reactions to external stimuli … all of our thoughts … all of our emotions are projected through the filter of our childhood experiences … like putting a colored filter on a camera.

So, what are the major traits or characteristics of child? A child loves freely, trusts openly, gives generously, plays with concepts, and learns voraciously. He is curious, accepting of others, knows that he is special and beautiful and welcome in this world. He imagines with strength and conviction and often endows his imagination with enough reality so that he sees and hears his playmates with his physical senses. He is secure in the knowledge that he lives in a world that is friendly, nurturing, protective of his dreams, and constantly contributing to his sense of wonder and enchantment. All of these are the traits of a child; unless they are negated by the treatment the child receives at the hands of the significant others who provide his care.

Let’s continue with the analogy of the symphony from our last conversation. We are all one master work of art … a symphony … joined in purpose yet each one of us separate and distinct … a different note on one of the lines or spaces or clefts in the major composition, millions of notes playing in harmony and syncopated rhythm to produce beauty. Are you with me?

Of course, beloved … I love this analogy … to me it is brilliant. I’m glad we are going to continue with it.

Okay, so … if we are the symphony … our childhood is the instrument through which we hear the music … the filter through which the music flows to our sense of hearing. Every note of the entire composition is filtered through this instrument.

You don’t have to be a musician to understand this. Anyone who has ever bought a radio can relate to this … different instruments transmit a different tonal quality. For example, a transistor radio with one earplug gives a mono or one-track reproduction of the symphony. The bass is muted; the treble is dampened and both are condensed into the midrange. So, we are not hearing the symphony’s fullness through that instrument. We are getting an estimate of what the entire composition sounds like rather than a clear and true reproduction. A computer’s speaker system is similar in a way; it does not give the listener an accurate reproduction of the entire symphony because the quality of the speaker system in a computer is poor to mediocre.

A decent stereo gives better audio quality because it can separate the midrange from the bass and treble and give a truer reproduction of the tonal quality of the entire production. But we aren’t there, yet, are we? A Dolby-enhanced system gives an even truer reproduction, especially when it includes a separate woofer or bass speaker to truly give depth to the bass sections. A recording studio is the truest, most accurate reproduction of each individual note in the symphony because each line can be adjusted or modulated to give the listener the effect of being in a concert hall, but it’s kinda big and wouldn’t fit in everyone’s home.

So, each person who is listening to the same symphony is hearing the symphony through the filter of the system or instrument through which it is being played. Therefore, each listener is hearing something different … from a rough estimate to a true reproduction of every instrument … or having a different experience of the entire symphony. Right?

Absolutely, I’ve experienced this myself. Back in the day when I purchased a personal compact disc player, I discovered that the music only sounds as good as the earphones through which it is delivered to the ear. Crummy earphones reproduce crummy sound. But when I went out and bought my MP3 player, I had forgotten that rule and tried listening to your music through the phones that came with the player. Big mistake! It annoyed me more than satisfied me. It made me itch because I knew what I wanted your music to sound like and those earphones were not delivering that sound to my ears. The bass had no depth and the treble was ‘tinny.’ That pair of phones didn’t last a full day. I had to run out on my lunch hour and invest in a good set of earphones that delivered fuller bass and truer reproduction of the treble and midrange.


Okay, so we’re on the same page! Now, let’s bring the childhood theme into the analogy.

A child who is welcomed into the world by loving parents, whose imagination is nourished and enriched with carefully controlled and supervised experiences, who is allowed the freedom to experiment with his thoughts and emotions, who is disciplined with love and respect for the beautiful little soul he is and who knows he is loved and accepted just as he is, warts and all, is the symphony reproduced through the ideal system of the recording studio. He is flexible and can bend without breaking because his strength has been lovingly adjusted along the way by the equalizing dials and sliders in the control board of his life by his parents, at first, and later by his own ideals. His admonishments were done without criticism and were always meant to help and not hurt; they were accepted as tools for advancement without rancor. He knows he is beautiful and lovable, regardless of his appearance, and doesn’t need to clash against others to prove his own worth or to always be viewed as being right. He perceives the world as a place filled with the wonder of discovery and enthusiastically embraces new experiences and people as exciting adventures that contain wonderful gifts to encourage his dreams and their manifestations. He leads a charmed, blessed life … never doubting that his parents are always there to bandage his hurts, pick up the pieces of his experiments (even when they end in disaster) and that the world supports him and his endeavors and always meets him at least half way in the realization of his dreams. His sympathy for others is fully developed and he expresses love in the same way he experienced it … fully and freely. He is the golden child. This is the ideal.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the child who is neglected or ignored or abused … physically, emotionally, spiritually, sexually or psychologically … whose worth is trodden upon by those in significant other positions in his young life. This child experiences a world full of fear in every moment, never knowing when the wrath of his parent or guardian is going to fall on his head. He is not listened to, his questions go unanswered or ridiculed or, worse yet, punished! His dreams are not encouraged and they soon become nightmares filled with violence and vengeance against those who seem to delight in his pain. He sees himself as ugly, unworthy of love, unable to complete a task without disaster and unable to give or receive love. The only way he can feel better about himself is to make those around him feel small so he judges without proof, accuses with malice and intent to hurt, bullies those younger or smaller or more sensitive and delights in the downfall of anyone else as long as it’s not himself. He hides his pain by diverting attention and blaming those around him for everything. Nothing is ever his fault. This child is the antithesis of the golden child. In our analogy, he is the symphony as heard through a transistor radio and one earphone. He cannot hear the fullness of the symphony or see the glory of his small but important part in it. His potential has been thwarted before he even had a chance to explore it … let alone achieve its fullness.

In between the two extremes are the vast majority of children who fall along the linear progression from ideal to antithesis. Their ideal childhood is interrupted by war or famine or disease or the death of a parent or sibling or some other factor and they represent the stereo in varying degrees of audio-replicating quality.

Are you still with me?

Of course, beloved! This analogy just gets better and better and explains so much so clearly.

God bless you! Okay. So, let’s take these two examples and follow them through adulthood. Please understand that these examples are illustrations only … and generalizations are always dangerous but can be used as hypothetical instances to demonstrate how such childhoods could affect individuals.

First, the ideal child grows to maturity to respect himself and those around him because he has been shown respect from his first breath; he is a leader by nature. He is compassionate and able to empathize with others. When he has children of his own, he tries to foster the same freedom and respect in his own children. He is confident of his place in the world, views the universe as a friendly, nurturing environment which encourages his dreams and their manifestation. He views his childhood with gratitude for all the blessings he received. This adult does not have to step on others or tear anyone else down to achieve; his achievement is a natural product of his curiosity, intelligence and strength of will. He has a realistic world view while maintaining a sense of wonder at the mysteries it continues to hold for him. He has the strength to bend while at the same time reaching for the stars. His imagination remains active and a source of delight for him. He gets along well with others because he genuinely likes people and they genuinely like him. While misfortune may knock at his door, he is not defeated by it. Rather, he uses it as an opportunity for growth and greater achievement. This adult can use his imagination to dream up solutions to the world’s problems … whether ecological or social or political … doesn’t feel it is necessary to repeat the errors of the past and has the confidence to experiment with the world around him … to see what works and what doesn’t. It is this adult upon whom the world depends to bring it out of its downward spiral.

The antithesis child grows to maturity with no respect for himself or anyone else. This is a dangerous generalization, but just for purposes of illustration, this child can run the gamut of illegal activity from prostitution to rape to murder to extortion (or he may never actually cross the line of what is illegal.) He is often violent. He fears the exposure of his wounds so much that he will do anything to divert attention from them and he doesn’t care who is hurt in the process. This child has no sensitivity for anyone else’s pain because he has been too much a victim of pain himself and no one had any sensitivity or empathy for him. He feels a sense of entitlement to the good things in life and doesn’t much care how he gets them or who he has to bury to get what they have. Gratitude is a foreign emotion to him. Often he believes in nothing and no one, including himself. He feels he has to bully others and manipulate people with inauthentic behavior to get what he needs. The world is an unfriendly place and everything and everyone is always out to get him. He is invested in maintaining the status quo, is fearful of change and new experiences and people. To him, love is a four-letter word, a weakness that only gets in his way or a thing to be used to get his way. He gets by on just good enough, takes little pride in his work and just struggles to get through the day. He can be an addictive personality because illegal substances dull his pain and fear. He is so insecure that he constantly blames others for all of his misfortunes and cannot take any responsibility for his own actions. He often can be abusive of his own family, repeating the actions of his parents because he knows nothing different, which just perpetuates the damage from generation to generation. He sees nothing wrong with the world the way it is so he has no compulsion to fix it. If it doesn’t affect him, he doesn’t care about it. The other six billion people on the planet don’t fit into his calculations … and the planet itself will not be destroyed during his lifetime so it really doesn’t concern him.

And it all stems from the filter through which the child hears the symphony … his childhood.

Now, remembering back to our previous conversation, we are all notes in the Symphony in the Key of L.O.V.E. We are all born into the world as innocent, beautiful souls who remember the Oneness from which we came vaguely, but have no way to express that remembrance. As individual notes we are beautiful and strong and important in the context of the entire composition, remember?

Yes, beloved, I remember.

Good, let’s tie this all up in a pretty, little bow! [Michael laughs.] Let’s take the two examples we’ve been talking about. When it comes time for the ideal child to sing his note to complete the symphony, his vibration is strong and clear and beautiful and he sings it willingly and openly without fear. But the antithesis child’s note has been bent and torn by the abuse he has received from his significant others and by the abuse he has caused himself and those around him. If he recognizes that he is part of the symphony at all, his note’s pitch and modulation have been thrown off and his vibration is out of tune … out of key … not strong … and so dissonant that it sticks out like a sore thumb among the chords and hundreds of notes on his page of the masterpiece.

Most children fall somewhere in between the two extremes, somewhat damaged but able to sing out when their measure is played though their vibration may lack strength or vibrato or duration.

Once again, all the variations are caused by the instrument through which we hear the symphony of life of which we are all a beautiful and important part … our childhoods. To repair the symphony and retune the notes that have been so bent and torn by the abuse they have endured, we must begin by seeing childhood as it really is and working to provide our children with what they need to grow into strong, beautiful notes in the Symphony in the Key of L.O.V.E.

Beautiful! Brilliant! Stunning! Magnificent! I am so grateful, beloved, for these conversations and your masterful explanation of some really very difficult concepts. On this Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S.) may I tell you how blessed I am that you are speaking with me so clearly. Thank You. Your presence in my life is one of the things I thank God for this Thanksgiving Day.

God bless you.

When you look back on the life you led, what is your overwhelming emotion or thought, beloved?

Gratitude … overwhelming gratitude … I was … and am … so very blessed. My life was so rich and full in so many ways … rich in experiences, rich in joy, rich in pain, rich in love, rich in fear. I got to experience the full gamut of human emotion … the extremes of joy and the extremes of sorrow … and I triumphed over both and continued to create the man I wanted to be.

My life offered me endless opportunities to live to the fullest possible extent … to pour everything I was and felt into my art and to love every moment of the pouring. In each instant of living, I was offered a new and exciting opportunity … and the freedom … to create the man I wanted to see in the mirror in relation to everything I saw or felt or thought or experienced. If you all could only know what a gift that is … that freedom to be what you choose to be in each new moment of each and every day of your life.

I would have expected you to respond differently after all you suffered here with us, Dear One.

No, it’s like childbirth. Life-bearers experience pain to bring life into the world, but once it’s here, they don’t remember the pain. Once they hold their newborn baby in their arms and look into their eyes, all that pain is replaced with falling in love with that beautiful soul and the bonding removes all memory of pain. The entire nine months of discomfort and exhaustion and expanding body parts just disappears as if it had never happened.

It is like that when we cross over the bridge which spans the gulf between the physical world and the world of spirit. We remember, but the pain of the remembering vanishes in the mists rising from below. And we get to see the whole of our lives in the context of the larger meaning it holds … for us as individuals and for humanity as a whole. We hear the symphony in all its simplicity and complexity and beauty; we rejoice to have been even the smallest, most insignificant part of that. We see the challenges and obstacles we faced in the context of the manner in which we used them as stepping stones to our creations. We see the necessity for the painful episodes in their repercussions as those ripples expand out into infinity; we understand the people who caused the pain, we see the wounds that formed their offense  and the larger roles each played in the stage production of life as the curtain falls. Forgiveness becomes unnecessary because we see that the pain had a purpose … and the purpose is beautiful.

Earthly life is such a blessing … it is a privilege that we must stop squandering so heedlessly. It gives our souls a chance to experience the beauty of nature and to breathe in the experience of the perfume of a flower and to touch a child’s hand or a lover’s face. It is a miracle and should be revered as such. Instead of viewing our lives as a constant struggle to survive or an ongoing battle to overcome everyone else around us, we should be thanking God for the opportunity to serve the larger goal because it is beautiful.

But we don’t see this great gift. Many of us view life as something to ‘get through’ so that you can claim heaven on the other side where you will finally be free of worry and happy … instead of an opportunity to create heaven right here and right now. You see life as an endless rat race; your view of life has been so colored by what you have experienced as children. When something happens to you, you perceive it as foreign … as other … when what you should see is the gift held for you within the situation you face. Does it offer you a chance to view yourself in a different light, to create yourself anew in light of the new information in contains? Does it provide a stimulus for you to reshape a part of yourself that, perhaps, you see as less than ideal? Does it hold a mirror or a chance to be light-filled or soulful?

You think that as you experience things, you must repeat previous thoughts or emotions or actions you have had about similar occurrences. You think that you are ruled by your emotions … and so you are. But that is not true. You choose your emotions and thoughts (either consciously or unconsciously), but it is such an automatic choice that you don’t realize that by choosing to repeat the emotions and thoughts you experienced previously, you are choosing to repeat your past instead of creating your present or laying a foundation for your future. Or you just go with auto-pilot and choose by default. By not choosing, you have chosen.

As a matter of fact, with trust that the world is a friendly and nurturing place and a willingness to remain open to the wonder that life holds, you can create new thoughts and emotions in each situation (regardless of the number of similar occurrences you experience) rather than following the old formula … you can rule your emotions and thoughts and make them serve you and aid in your creations. You would be surprised how the universe will meet you half way if you put this into practice.

We are all golden children and golden children can dream their own reality into being … can move mountains … can change the world.

Beloved, I have asked this question of everyone I know who I thought might be able to answer it. I even asked it in earlier articles on this blog when I first started it in July as an example of the kind of question reporters and interviewers should have spent their time with you discussing … instead of the trash they decided was important.

But, since I have you tied down, I have to ask you: How did you never come from a place of ego or defensiveness? How did you never lash out in justified anger at the treatment you received from this world? How did you remain so humble and kind and generous in all your dealings with your colleagues and band members and dancers? If anyone in this world had a reason to be egotistical, you were that person! You excelled so brilliantly at everything you ever laid your hand to … and were so maddeningly prolific!! How did it never show?

You’re giving me credit I don’t deserve! I lashed out plenty of times. I closed myself off from everyone and screamed and ranted and raved and cried. I even trashed a hotel room once or twice. Or I went into the dance studio and danced my anger out for hours … until I couldn’t move or breathe or think or walk … and I was standing in a pool of my own sweat! I just made sure no one else saw it or heard it, but I did it! I channeled a lot of anger through music … a lot of horror through my films, but you know that! I used that energy or vibration to create rather than to react.

Have you ever noticed that the words ‘creation’ and ‘reaction’ use exactly the same letters … only the perspective (the order in which they occur) changes? It is human nature to react to a stimulus and it is only human to defend ourselves or make ourselves right at all costs. I read a saying once, “I would rather be loving than right.” I often asked myself, “What would Love do in this situation?”

Usually, when something happens to us, our brains perform a kind of automatic search through its memory banks to find a similar experience to compare it to. It then just replays the emotions we had and the actions we performed in that similar earlier experience … we re-act … sometimes without thinking about the effect of our words or actions on others. That’s what we call a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, meaning it’s almost an instinctual thing because it happens so automatically that we aren’t even aware of it.

If we could just keep the innocence and wonder of a child who has no previous experiences to call up from those memory banks, who trusts that the world is a kind and friendly and loving place and who creates actions anew in each situation he or she encounters, perhaps we could eliminate a lot of the pain we cause to others … and to ourselves … when we react without thinking.

Yes, but, when Oprah asked you if you were a virgin, how did you stop yourself from saying, “That is none of your business and I am ashamed of you for asking such a personal question!” I am not criticizing, beloved, the response you gave was perfect, “I am a gentleman” – understated, succinct, perfect! You left it at that, but the implication was that Oprah wasn’t much of a lady for asking the question to begin with!

I wish I could tell you how embarrassed and shocked I was by the question. I had not expected her to go that far. I expected her to respect what I considered to be the common rules of decency. Apparently, my common rules of decency and hers were not the same.

Oprah is a very damaged soul so she sees only damage in others … real or imagined. She must spotlight everyone else’s fault lines to make hers seem less distinct. And she is fixated on the sexual abuse issue because she was sexually abused as a child.

She is a perfect example of what I mean when we were talking about childhood. Because her childhood was so frightening, she has cut herself off from her own humanity. She views the world from the perspective of the fear she experienced and flinches and cowers in terror that anyone will ever have that kind of power over her again. She can’t believe that a grown, mature person can remain open to the wonder of childhood because she didn’t experience a wonder-filled childhood. This affects all her relationships and friendships and colors her view of everyone she meets. To her, the world is a place where she has to scheme to get what she wants, she has to manipulate people with inauthentic behavior, she has to make sure that she is right at the expense of others. It is an unfriendly, fearful place against which she must always be on guard. This is common. In her, I see so clearly her wounds. Could you berate someone whose soul you saw bleeding before your very eyes?

No, I guess not.

Exactly … neither could I. There was something about my earthly life that I think may explain things a little better.

I saw things differently than many see them. For example, Frank Dileo used to go with me to the hospitals I visited before going on stage or would stand with me in my dressing room when sick kids … some of them dying … would come to visit before a concert at my invitation. He would get so emotionally distressed because the sight of these children raised so much sympathy in him that he would cry; he had to leave. And he’s a tough man; he isn’t comfortable with showing emotion. He couldn’t stay in the room with me. And he would ask me, ‘How can you do this just before going on to perform?’ He couldn’t understand that I never saw their diseases or their scars or their bald heads or their crippled bodies. What I saw in them was beautiful … souls being shaped by the Master’s hands into perfection, clay being molded, turned and fired to be perfect reflections of the Master’s love. To me, if my presence could alleviate just the smallest part of their suffering … one moment … one heartbeat … that was as important a part of my job as the concert.

My friend and artist, David Nordahl asked me the same question. I knew that I wasn’t all that important. But I also knew that Michael Jackson, the superstar, was … and if he could show up and encourage these beautiful children to hold on for one more hour or one more day or one more week … well it would be worth anything, wouldn’t it?

There was this beautiful child in New Zealand, I think … a little girl maybe sixteen to eighteen months old and she was baldheaded and had intravenous tubing emerging from her arm and a stand next to the bed with the drip attached. Frank came in, looked around and all he saw was the tubing and the monitors whirring and beeping. He turned around and left the room blubbering in the hallway. I came in and this beautiful child looked at me with honest, open eyes and smiled the biggest smile you would ever want to see while she played with the tubing. She was so beautiful! She wasn’t feeling sorry for herself or making any kind of judgment about her condition … fair or unfair … right or wrong. How could Frank not see the child’s beauty? And he, no doubt, asked the same question about me with one small difference. His question was, “How could you not see the suffering?”

So, I guess I saw things a bit differently than most of the world.

Sometimes, the cancer they suffered would disappear or the disease that pushed them into a coma would leave them. On those occasions, the healing had more to do with the kids’ faith in me than in anything I said or did. Their faith … and their own bodies’ natural healing abilities … healed them with a lot of help from God. It wasn’t me.

The human body is a miracle full of secrets! We would do so much better to unravel those secrets than waging war against our imagined enemies or our planet!

Jan – November 25, 2010

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I have never seen such a beautiful response to anything in my life. ‘Conversations’ seems to be a hit! I am grateful to all of you who have visited the site and left me a ‘calling card’ … I am also grateful to those who sent me email or contacted me on Facebook to let me know that ‘Conversations’ has touched you.

Several of you have asked me what my feelings were about this series, so I thought I would put those feelings right here so that everyone could know the answer. I feel grateful! I feel blessed! I feel honored! I feel reverential! I feel humble! I feel Michael Jackson is messing with me … and I pray he never stops! You will see what I mean when you read Installment 2 of the series. That man has not lost any of his sense of humor in the translation. God love him!

Do I really feel it is Michael? Like I’ve said before … to me it really doesn’t matter. The information he is feeding me is valid in my heart and strikes a chord somewhere deep in my soul. My only prayer is that it does the same for my readers.

We all need to uplift each other in these trying times. We don’t need to be putting anyone down … or criticizing each other for our opinions regarding the new music … or those involved in getting that music to us in whatever form it comes.

That is my fervent wish for this series … that each of you can take something from it in renewed faith and strengthening of the bond between us and our idol. So, without further adieu … Installment 2 is up on the Conversations page above.

Jan

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My offering this week will be a bit of a departure from what my regular readers have become accustomed to on this site. As such it requires a brief explanation and introduction.

During the week of November 8 through November 13 of 2010, there was a lot of activity in the fan community centering upon the release of a new album by Michael Jackson and the authenticity of the vocals. It was hard not to be dragged into the discussions on this emotional issue. Many of us long to hear our idol’s voice again with an ache that is, perhaps, hard to understand from an outsider’s point of view. We are still reeling from grief and shock over his death and anything which affects his legacy and gift to the world is charged with emotional turmoil. Some of the comments on social networks and blogs were excessive and became hurtful to others. As human beings, it is natural to want to lash out in pain and anger at reckless claims and thoughtlessly worded diatribes.

Rather than becoming overly embroiled in the ongoing discussions, I decided to refrain from too much comment or involvement in the discussions because I didn’t want to be dragged into some of the rampantly negative mind sets of the commentators. I decided, instead, to “go to the source and ask the horse,” a quote from the song of an old television series entitled ‘Mr. Ed’ that some of you might remember.  There are very few people who would know with a certainty about the authenticity of the vocals, except those involved in the recording session … and Michael Jackson!

So, I asked Michael Jackson … and he responded. What followed was a week-long discussion which those of you who are interested can find under the tab ‘Conversations’ above. Please understand. I am not claiming any kind of psychic authority for these conversations or psychic powers of any kind.  As a matter of fact, I am not claiming anything for myself.

For those of you who question whether the responses are coming from Michael, my response is that I simply don’t know, they are what I was moved to write … and I have a question for you: Does it really matter? My thought on the subject is: if the information rings true for you, if the responses contain validity for your heart, then that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

So, please click on the tab ‘Conversations’ at the top of this page to investigate further, if you are so inclined.

Be in the light.

Jan

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The Chosen One

We’ve all heard the above phrase and one similar to it – “the promised child” – all our lives – and I, for one, have misunderstood them for as long. We’ve heard them in religious contexts, from our local neighborhood church’s pulpit (usually around Christmas time). We’ve heard them from our Sunday school teachers. Those of us who attended Catholic schools heard them repeatedly shoved down our throats by the nuns who taught us in their black and white habits and whimples (pre-Vatican II, if you please).

I have to admit that I had never understood exactly what the phrases meant until I heard them in an entirely new and different – perhaps, unexpected – context, in a song released on 2001’s Invincible by Michael Jackson. The song itself, Cry, co-written by R. Kelly and Michael Jackson, includes the chorus:

You can change the world

(I can’t do it by myself)

You can touch the sky

(Gonna take somebody’s help)

You’re the chosen one

(Gonna need some kind of sign)

If we all cry at the same time tonight.

I had always thought that the phrase meant that God had chosen a specific person to do a specific task – like He chose Jesus to save the world in one of the cruelest chapters in humankind’s history – or like He chose Mary to bear His son and to watch in horror and disbelief as he was tortured and killed before her very eyes and quite frankly – not to put too fine a point on it – I was scared! But, then, I thought “what God in His right mind would choose poor little, insignificant, impotent me to do anything?” (and kind of breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I was safe.)  I mean, let’s face it; those He had chosen didn’t appear to have a real good time while they were here. Who would want that kind of attention from God? Who would want to be chosen for the kind of work God chose those guys for, right? No, thank you very much; I’ll pass. So, I was more than glad to be off the hook.

I interpreted the phrases as referring to a limited number of people – Jesus, Mary, maybe a couple of saints along the way in the last two thousand years or so. In other words, the choosing had been done long, long ago and those chosen could be counted on one hand. So, I didn’t have to worry; it was a done deal. Phew!

The thing I didn’t understand about these two phrases was that God goes on choosing in every moment, just as we must. The result of that understanding ended up being quite a daunting revelation for me. As Michael sang in the song quoted above (and so many others):

We are all ‘the promised child.’

The proof of that is that we are all here.

We are all ‘the chosen one’ or we wouldn’t be alive.

Michael Jackson understood both of these phrases much better than most of the world – or at least better than I did with my extensive religious training (the result of twelve years of parochial education). In his song HIStory from HIStory: Past, Present and Future: Book 1 – 1995, he sings: “The promised child shines in a baby’s eyes. All nations sing; let’s harmonize all around the world.” He meant all babies’ eyes – every single one – yes, even the infirm, the halt, the maimed, the abused, the starving, the dying, the scarred, the poor, the disadvantaged – black, white, yellow, red, purple with pink polka dots. None of that matters; each one of us is ‘the promised child’ and, God bless his beautiful soul, that’s the way Michael saw all of us, even the ones who degraded, belittled, persecuted and broke that beautiful spirit over the anvil of their own cynicism.

‘The chosen one’ is what he saw when he visited children in hospitals the world over prior to going on stage. ‘The promised child’ is what he recognized hiding behind the pain and fear and dis-ease of all the little baldheaded cancer victims, some of them too ill to sit up and watch a movie so he had hospital beds installed in the theater to accommodate their needs, whose heads his hand caressed so tenderly when they accepted his invitation to visit his beautiful estate and share his Garden of Eden with him for a few hours of carefree fun.

Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone. This simple goodness shines straight from their hearts. This has so much to teach. If a child wants chocolate ice cream, he just asks for it. Adults get all tangled up in complications over whether to eat the ice cream or not. A child simply enjoys.

What we need to learn from children isn’t childish. Being with them connects us to the deep wisdom of life, which is ever-present and only asks to be lived. Now, when the world is so confused and its problems so complicated, I feel we need our children more than ever. Their natural wisdom points the way to solutions that lie, waiting to be recognized, within our own hearts. (Children excerpted from Dancing the Dream, 1992)

The piece of information that I had been lacking since I was a little girl being taught by those nuns I mentioned earlier was that we are all chosen to be here in this time in the history of our world and that we are all His promised children regardless of age. The seminal fact that I failed to grasp for all those years is that the Good Lord made His choices, now it is up to all of us to make ours. In other words, this choosing thing is not a one-way street (as I had always assumed in my ignorance) but rather a two-edged sword. While God chooses us to be resident in this time and place in history, He also considers His gift to us inviolate.

We have been given free will by our Creator – which translates as the right to choose to be chosen with all that entails … or not. Most of us choose not to be chosen – or to be chosen but only with conditions – and we have the freedom to do that, however the result of that choice is the world we currently see around us. It is cynical; believing that God’s promises are too good to be true and the old adage that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t,” we discard those promises as too far-fetched. It is uncaring that hundreds of children die every day from starvation while wealthy, advanced nations horde grain that could feed them; it looks on dispassionately while old growth forests that are our lungs – that breathe for all of us and our world are destroyed to make way for asphalt jungles; it watches in apathetic detachment as children are abducted, tortured, killed or kill each other for entertainment; it laughs at cruel jokes made at the expense of others who place no conditions on their choice to be chosen.

And herein lies the major difference between most of us and Michael Jackson (or, at least, one of them). From a very young age, Michael understood that he was chosen. At first, as a very young boy, he recognized only that he had been chosen to be an uncommonly clear instrument of music … and he said ‘yes’ by opting to pour all the dedication and hard work and diligence a child can understand into the music as the music flowed through him like a tap fully opened to fill a bath tub. He didn’t say ‘yes, but don’t mess up my childhood’ (perhaps, he would have been happier if he had – but then he wouldn’t have been Michael Jackson); he just said ‘yes.’ It may not have been a totally conscious decision on his part; he may not have been aware of the sacrifice he was making as 10-year-old boys frequently aren’t; his fascination with and love for singing and dancing and the joy he derived from soaking up the knowledge of the adults who mentored his meteoric rise may have played a large part in that choosing. But choose he did – and very early in life compared to the rest of us. What’s more, he never rescinded that choice. While he may have had moments of regret, he moved forward and was often heard to be grateful for the extraordinary life he’d lived, “I wouldn’t change the past if I had to,” he told Oprah Winfrey in 1993. “But I get to see many things that most people only read about. You never can have everything,” he told Ed Bradley.

Unfortunately, as he discovered later, there are only twenty-four hours in any day, even for those who have been chosen. He couldn’t spend eighteen of them dreaming about recording and learning all there was to know about recording and, let’s not forget the actual hours spent recording and rehearsing and honing his dance steps and performing numerous concerts all over the world and still have time to be a child. His choices were never easy.

Later, in his teenage years, as he began to allow the music to speak through him – to try to capture it as it flowed through him – to write and produce his own inspirations; he recognized that he was being chosen again … that he was given a gift. “I feel blessed and honored to be an instrument of nature that was chosen to give them that … what I give them. I’m very honored and happy about that.”

From the very beginning, Michael always acknowledged the source of the gift as God; he spoke often of his creative process, claiming that he had a hard time ‘taking credit’ because he felt that all his songs were ‘up there somewhere’ and had ‘just come through to him.’ As recently as This Is It, when questioned about his sleeplessness by his collaborators, he acknowledged that he was channeling ideas for a new album and for the multi-pronged production underway. One of his business partners asked if he couldn’t ask his Higher Power to take a vacation for a little while so that he could get some sleep and they could get the current venture off the ground. Michael’s response was, “I can’t do that! He (God) might give the ideas to Prince!” (Kenny Ortega during an interview conducted shortly after Michael’s demise in June, 2009)

Nonetheless, once again, he said ‘yes’ … perhaps a bit more consciously this time. Because one doesn’t just choose one time; one goes on choosing to be the chosen one in every moment of life; with every breath one breathes one re-affirms that one is the promised child. This, too, was a seminal fact that I was always missing. I believe he understood this concept much better than I ever did until I started paying attention to Michael and seeing behind the rumor mill to the heart and soul of the man. The proof of that affirmation is in the way he accepted and used that gift … to awaken, to bring joy, to benefit the human family, to transcend, to uplift and to excel.

He filled every recording session, every song, every performance, every dance step with all of the knowledge and experience he had gained as a boy and added to it all of the talent and inspiration God had given him as a man, leavening the mixture with all the love he had in his heart to make them rise above the common. And rise they did! He held nothing back; left no kick un-kicked or spin un-spun or backwards glide undone; he worked even harder to perfect every aspect of his recordings and performances and brought it with passion and style, abundant energy and soul as no one else could.

At about the same time, he began to see how his enormous fame could be used to leverage change or to prolong the gift of life in terminally ill children; how his meteoric, unparalleled celebrity could be wielded to promote famine relief and encourage all of us to lay claim to being “the world” and “the children” with a simple melody; how his ample wealth could be a stop gap measure to improve the lives of children and all of us and the planet … and he said ‘yes’ again to being chosen for this purpose. At last, I believe he was fully conscious of all the ramifications of his firm, unqualified affirmation.

His friend and preferred artist of over twenty years, David Nordahl testified recently: “I asked him, ‘Michael, how can you do that? How can you spend the time with these children who are dying and then go from that on stage and give that kind of performance?’ He said, ‘How could I not … if these children want to see me? I know I’m not important, but Michael Jackson, the superstar, is, and if I can make a child live an extra minute or an hour or a day or a month, then wouldn’t that be worth it?’ – David Nordahl, October 2010 in a telephone interview granted to Reflections on the Dance: An Honest Look at Michael Jackson. Frank Dileo recounts incidents where he couldn’t stay in the room with Michael, where he had to leave because he was so torn up by the condition of some of the children Michael insisted on visiting. He tells us that Michael would tell him that this, too, was part of his job, perhaps, the most important part.

Throughout all the years and phases of his life, Michael Jackson treated the gifts he had been given as the treasurers they were by developing them to the ‘nth’ degree of perfection – his life as a vocation by saying ‘yes’ without qualification to being ‘the promised child’ and ‘the chosen one’ – his Higher Power, the world and the people around him with reverence regardless of age or race or any other divisive attribute with humility and empathy.

With his example to light our way, we , too, can take our rightful place as ‘promised’ and ‘chosen’ by holding his love within our hearts and shining that light on all with whom we come in contact.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” (Luke 12:4)

So, while we, awakened by his life well-lived, may be angry over the treatment meted out to this paragon, Michael Jackson; while we may grieve inconsolably over his absence even nearly a year and a half after this world lost him; while we may seek accountability for those who killed his body – we must, at the same time, rejoice at his promise fulfilled and his choosing by a Hand greater than all of us (as well as his own willingness to be chosen) to be such an irrepressible light upon our world for half a century. While we rejoice, we must be grateful to have been fortunate enough to live during his era … to have watched with astonishment and awe as his star rose to heights heretofore unimaginable … to have been open enough to see, recognize and feel his impact. Now in his absence, we must continue to be committed enough to say ‘yes’ to being chosen by him to carry on his legacy … and humble enough to be his promise to the world that treated his brilliance with such cavalier disdain.

Jan

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One day last week, Laura (my eight-year-old granddaughter) came home from school all excited because she had lost a tooth. It had just come out while she was eating her lunch and she had almost swallowed it. She asked me if the tooth fairy was going to come and leave her money and, of course, I told her we would have to wait and see. That’s my stock answer for such questions, just in case I forget to sneak in later and leave her money which I have done on one occasion and felt really, really bad the next morning. She looked at me kind of skeptically and later while preparing the tooth for pick-up by the “TF,” I asked if her little friends at school had been telling her that there really is no tooth fairy; she nodded kind of sadly. She asked me if there really is. Well, my stock answer wouldn’t do in this instance.

So, I told her there were two ways of looking at the situation. The first is that there really is a little being who flies in and takes her tooth and pays her according to the condition of the tooth. For a while, she seemed satisfied and ran into her room to write a note to the tooth fairy, “I believe you axist,” which she put into the film canister we use for teeth. Pretty soon, her beautiful little face was at my door. “How does she get in?” she asked hesitantly. My response, “How do flies get in?” seemed to satisfy her for the moment.

A little later still, she came back in and said, “Grandma, you said there were two ways to look at it. What’s the other one?” Okay! So, the kid’s not dumb. “Well,” I replied trying to think fast because for this one I do not have a stock answer, “you can also see your grandmother as an officially deputized tooth fairy who has been sworn in by the National Association of Tooth Fairies and Magical Beings (NATFMB) to stand in when the tooth fairies are overextended and is likewise sworn to secrecy upon pain of being excommunicated from the association.” I had my fingers, legs, and eyes crossed – hoping against hope that she would be satisfied with that answer. Luckily she was. She said, “Oh, okay,” and returned to her room to get ready for bed. Phew!

After I had tucked her securely into her bed, kissed her goodnight and made sure she was well and truly asleep, I snuck in very quietly and took the film canister, replacing the tooth with a dollar bill and writing a reply to her note, “I love you, too. Nice tooth. TF” The following morning, Laura came running in and said, “The tooth fairy left me a note. She wrote it in blue pen. I wonder where she got a blue pen.” LOL! I just laughed and stood in front of the blue BIC pen sitting on my dresser and shrugged.

Have you seen my childhood?
I’m searching for the world that I come from
Cuz I’ve been looking around
In the lost and found
Of my heart
No one understands me
They view it as such strange eccentricities
Cuz I’ve been kidding around like a child
But pardon me
People say I’m not okay
Cuz I love such elementary things
It’s been my fate to compensate
For the childhood
I’ve never known

Why do our children have to grow out of their belief in MAGIC? Why is it so terrible for a fully-grown, mature adult to retain a vestige of that belief? Why must we give all of our allegiance to this reality which at best is less than edifying and at worst is downright terrifying? Why can our view of reality not be expanded to include all the mystical, magical, wondrous beings and places that our medieval counterparts knew existed – like leprechauns and fairies and sprites and gins and magicians and angels and the end of the rainbow?

Have you seen my childhood?
I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
Like pirates and adventurous dreams
Of conquest and kings on a throne
Before you judge me
Try hard to love me
Look within your heart and ask
Have you seen my childhood?

Furthermore, what is it about childhood that makes all of us adults long for a return to that state? We all feel a tug towards childhood; Michael was just a bit more vocal about this longing than most of us. We all have a soft spot in our hearts for our childhoods, even though some of them were less than ideal. Some of us grew up very quickly due to the death of a parent or sibling. Many of us didn’t get to experience the magic and wonder and innocence of childhood because of disease, war, abuse, neglect, hunger, poverty or any of the other societal blights that take a toll on childhood in our culture. The child who experiences nothing but love and encouragement throughout those halcyon days is rare indeed. But that doesn’t diminish our longing for a return to an idealized, carefree, magical time in our lives when our days were filled with play and dreams and imaginary playmates relieved our boredom or fears when we awoke with nightmares.

Is it being small and having to look up to everything except the smallest dog? Do we miss being tiny enough to walk under tables without banging our heads? Perhaps, we just hunger to climb into someone’s lap and snuggle into her warmth or to be carried when our feet and legs grow too tired to propel us forward any further? Is it the surety that we are loved and accepted warts and all? I don’t think so, because many of us never experienced that (much as we would have liked to.)

Is it the lack of responsibility? Do we feel nostalgic about being under our parents’ control and not having to make our own decisions and accept the consequences of our own actions? Do we yearn for a return to the structure they provided (if we were lucky) – like regular mealtimes and bedtimes for example? Exactly what is it that we view so idealistically in our childhoods? I, for one, often resented the control my parents exerted over my life as a child, especially when they decided that only a belt would get my attention. There were times that my feelings for my parents were ambivalent, when I resented their influence as much as cherished it, when I hated them or feared them as much as loved them. I don’t think that’s it.

May I suggest that what we cherish most about childhood as adults is the child’s ability to perceive the world around him as filled with MAGIC, to have faith in the existence of fairies and fairy godmothers, Prince Charmings and flying dragons, imaginary friends and angels. The very beliefs our society discourages in early elementary school (and seeks to actively destroy in the rare adult who retains vestiges of those beautiful, innocent ways of looking at life against all odds) are the characteristics that make childhood so very special in our minds and color our perceptions of the state of childhood for the rest of our lives.

After second or third grade, it is seldom one finds a child who still believes in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy – or at least one who will admit that belief. Their little friends have disabused them of those notions … and made fun of them for them for added emphasis … during morning recess. Or some unfeeling adult has admonished them that they are too old to hold such childish beliefs. Most families today need separate Day Planners to remind them of their children’s activities; kids don’t have time to be kids, anymore. They are too busy with karate lessons, ballet lessons, chess clubs, dance classes and the like. Such activities begin at kindergarten, even pre-kindergarten age.

We don’t sit down for family dinners to discuss the events of our days and what our children have been taught in school. We don’t read our beautiful children bed time stories anymore; we hurry them through childhood as if they were being chased by demons … and, they, in turn, spend the rest of their lives longing to return to childhoods that no one had time for.

The parent or grandparent who wishes to instill or retain in their elementary school child a belief in miracles is fighting an uphill battle against very tough odds. It’s a little like storming the Bastille armed with pocket watches! It ain’t gonna work! Peer pressure trumps mom or grandma every time. And we know it.

And what of those rare adults who manage to remain open to the magic which surrounds us on a daily basis? What of the uncommon man or woman who continues to see “a promised child shine in a baby’s eyes.” The birth of a child is a miracle when one considers the odds against conception and full-term delivery of a healthy, happy baby. Every sunrise can be seen as magic with the proper perspective; every sunset a thing of inestimable beauty and enchantment when viewed through the innocent heart of a child.

Have you seen my childhood
I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
Like fantastical stories to share
The dreams I would dare
Watch me fly!

Are these visionaries who have retained the ability to see the world in this wise heralded as the leaders they are by our culture? Are their “fantastical stories to share” and creative ideas heralded as the innovative answers to some of our most haunting questions? Are the “dreams they would dare” allowed to bloom into full and luxurious flower by our society? Are these sages and seers appreciated in their own time?

No, I think not! These are viewed by our so-logical, so-grown-up, so sophisticated and jaded society as its idiot savants, its mentally impaired, its freaks – and, unfortunately, they are referred to in just those terms (yes, even today when we pride ourselves on being so very advanced.) Their sweet innocence is ridiculed; their radiant purity is degraded and suspected; their optimistic ability to trust is derided and taken advantage of by opportunistic sycophants; their gift of innocent, pure, unselfish love which proceeds as naturally as breathing from the deepest recesses of their hearts and their talent to manifest that love in their lives is rejected by our society, seen as sinister, deviant, criminal (even when no facts or evidence exist to incriminate them.) They are chided to come back down to earth, get their heads out of the clouds, get real, wake up and smell the coffee, see the world as it really is. Why? Is it so much more attractive as it really is? Is it easier to believe in the world as it is? Or is it depressing, fearful, horrifying? I think I’d rather wear my rose-colored glasses, thank you very much.

Once there was a child and he was free
Deep inside, he felt the laughter
The mirth and play of nature’s glee
He was not troubled by thoughts of hereafter
Beauty, love was all he’d see

He knew his power was the power of God
He was so sure, they considered him odd
The power of innocence, of compassion, of light
Threatened the priests and created a fright
In endless ways they sought to dismantle
This mysterious force which they could not handle

In endless ways they tried to destroy
His simple trust, his boundless joy
His invincible armor was a shield of bliss
Nothing could touch it, no venom, no hiss
The child remained in a state of grace
He wasn’t confined to time or place
In Technicolor dreams, he frolicked and played
While acting his part, in Eternity he stayed

Soothsayers came and fortunes were told
Some were vehement, others were bold
In denouncing this child, this perplexing creature
With the rest of the world he shares no feature
Is he real? He is so strange
His unpredictable nature knows no range
He puzzles us so, is he straight?
What’s his destiny? What’s his fate?

Magical Child by Michael Jackson (excerpted from Dancing the Dream 1992)

The above excerpt from Michael’s wonderful book of poems and essays speaks to me very clearly of his consciousness of the gulf that separated him from other men and women in his culture. His ability to still be overawed by the world around him and its beauty, his retention of the world of magic in his heart and his mind, making space for that world to impinge upon ours, his empathic participation in the suffering of those less fortunate than himself, his belief in the inherent goodness of the human species exemplified the childhood he’d never been privileged to know.

The creative, imaginative, innovative thinkers are responsible for moving humankind forward. Under our current system which abhors, degrades, criminalizes originality, Galileo becomes nothing more than a rebellious heretic; Michelangelo is reduced to a dirty old man who did horrifying things with a paint brush in the privacy of his studio; J. M. Barrie becomes a deviant who lured young boys with fantastic stories in order to appease his aberrant carnal appetites. Those who believed in MAGIC, the dreamers, founded America, invented the light bulb and electricity, discovered the new world, invented the telegraph and telephone, the ‘horseless carriage’ and the computer, flew the first airplanes and landed mankind on the moon. Einstein was a dreamer, as was Aristotle, Plato, Homer, Socrates, Florence Nightingale, Charles Lindbergh, Stephen Hawking, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and any number of other prominent historical figures, including all of the saints we reverence. As a matter of fact, without our dreamers our species would still be living in caves, wearing the skins of animals and using clubs to settle their disputes (well, I guess we’re not so far from that!)

I find it a bit incongruous that our society discourages the child’s (and the childlike adult’s) belief in fairy tales while, at the same time, trying to instill in him faith in another type of unseen, invisible, spiritual (did I say magical?) world that overlooks and cares for our own in Sunday school and Bible Study classes every Sunday. But that faith is considered acceptable as long as it is kept in its proper place – our local neighborhood church.

Don’t bring those beliefs outside into the real world; there is no place for them there. It’s acceptable to have faith that God works in our lives as long as we keep those workings quiet. Don’t live the words of Jesus Christ to his disciples; the world will consider you very odd if you do. Don’t follow the tenets of your religion and remain chaste while the world around you leads a dissolute life – you will be accused of homosexuality or asexuality or worse, particularly if you are a young, massively popular, world-renowned, (did I mention African-American) musical artist. The world will not believe a word you say; it will assign malignant intentions where none exist; it will evict you from the Garden of Eden you built with your own unbridled love and care, which sustains your spiritual essence; it will accuse you of horrifying crimes; it will kill you with its disbelief, its suspicion of anything that is just plain too good to be true.

Don’t talk about your faith on the six o’clock news or with a popular interviewer; don’t espouse charity and compassion for those less fortunate than yourself; you will be scorned or accused of horrifying motivations particularly if you forego the vices common to those in your profession in favor of visiting cancer victims in hospitals or, heaven forbid, you invite them out to your estate to enjoy a day of safe, carefree childhood.

We’ve all seen examples of what happens when belief in the spirit is brought out of its assigned place and lived, for example. Such people are persecuted, crucified – literally or figuratively! The results are not pretty and we have some very recent examples to add to those from history to which we can allude to prove that point.

What are we teaching our children? We are teaching them to be hypocrites! To be bullies! To judge people by their appearance! To abrade people who are creative and who see things differently (more clearly?)! We are a hypocritical society. We teach our children about freedom and equality and honesty and the golden rule while we judge those who look differently as freaks, who think originally as wacko, who accept no boundaries as weird, who create from the purest of intentions as bizarre and who love unconditionally, as Jesus taught us all to love, as deviant criminals. The mixed messages we are broadcasting are staggering in their repercussions.

Michael Jackson was very aware of this culture-wide trend. As a matter of fact, he was one of our world’s most visible and vocal victims of it. During an address at Oxford University in March, 2001, he proposed the following Universal Children’s Bill of Rights to counter the societal runaway train we are on:

1.       The right to be loved without having to earn it.

2.       The right to be protected without have to deserve it.

3.       The right to feel valuable even if you came into the world with nothing.

4.       The right to be listened to without having to be interesting.

5.       The right to be read a bedtime story without having to compete with the evening news.

6.       The right to an education without having to dodge bullets at school.

7.       The right to be thought of as adorable even if you have a face that only a mother could love.

Friends, the foundation of all human knowledge, the beginning of human consciousness, must be that each and every one of us is an object of love. Before you know if you have red hair or brown, before you know if you are black or white, before you know of what religion you are a part, you have to know that you are loved.

If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with. A professor may degrade you but you will not feel degraded; a boss may crush you but you will not be crushed; a corporate gladiator might vanquish you but you will still triumph. How could any of them prevail in pulling you down? For you know that you are an object worthy of love. The rest is just packaging.”

Let’s allow our children their innocent wanderings in faerie glens which exist in every child’s imagination. With a little practice, we might remember our own – and, perhaps, accompany them occasionally to refresh our own over-stressed spirits.

Jan

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But if you wanna see
The truth, the purity
It’s here inside a lonely heart
So, let the performance start

There is something important going on. It is more than sixteen months after Michael Jackson’s death. The fan community is still grieving over his passing, lamenting the loss of its idol. But many fans the world over are reporting interesting experiences. These happenings include dream visitations, visions, channeling poetry, musical messages, tactile sensations, and spiritual comforting. The reports are coming from long-time fans as well as people who only received their invitations subsequent to Michael’s passing … from people who were fans but were diverted along the way as well as from those who had never been exposed to Michael before This Is It … from all around the world young and old are continuing to “come together” over Michael Jackson.

It’s a phenomenon that few understand. Most are reluctant to reveal their experiences fearing that others would think they were crazy. Then, by some means, they are being led to … or happening upon … websites which offer them anonymity and the freedom to witness to their experiences in a safe, non-judgmental environment. As a result, reports abound of Michael Jackson comforting his fans from around the world through stories of his amazing humanitarian outreach finally surfacing, through his music coincidentally playing on radio, through dreams, through serendipitous occurrences. Some are seeing Michael’s face or his initials in star formations. Others are hearing his voice when the radio is turned off. Some are channeling poetry when such a possibility had never crossed their minds prior to Michael’s demise.

Some of Michael’s talented friends and former collaborators (like R. Kelly’s example below) are writing or singing tributes to Michael during their personal appearances and concerts.

Don’t say goodbye to me
There is no need to
Don’t say goodbye to me
I am still with you
Don’t say goodbye to me
Don’t shed a tear
Cuz I’m still here

Just light a candle
And say a prayer
Scream out victory
Love is still there
Smile at the memories
All through the years
Cuz I’m still here

Take all I’ve given you
Keep it inside
When you feel lonely
I’m right by your side
And when the storm comes
Have no fear
Because I’m still here

So walk with your head up
And be strong
Just remember
That you’re not alone
I’m smiling down
On you, my dear
Remember, daddy’s still here.

While the song was performed, R. Kelly showed a video montage of Michael ending with a split screen of Michael from the You Are Not Alone short film and Paris – both looking up as if enrapt within the arms of a vision. It was really, very beautifully done and moving; it brought tears to my eyes. And I could so hear Michael’s voice singing those words to all of us, especially his beautiful children.

Judith Hill, who was scheduled to perform with him at the O2 Arena in London has written a tribute called I Will Always be Missing You. Michael Bearden, Michael’s musical director for the stillborn concert residence in the United Kingdom has written and recorded One Last Goodbye (featuring Ayanna Irish).

Carlos Santana who worked with Michael on a song for Invincible called Whatever Happens addressed him as the Archangel Michael at one of his recent concerts. Beyonce Knowles performed her song Halo at one of her sold-out performances with a video montage of Michael Jackson playing behind her. It was an emotional outpouring of incredible power from the video footage I’ve seen. Finally, The Commodores reworked their mega-hit Nightshift as a tribute to Michael and released it for his birthday in August of this past year. Partial lyrics read:

Michael
He was a friend of mine
For more than forty years
No brighter star did shine

Michael
They call you King of Pop
But for your gentle soul
The pain would never stop
(that’s over now, that’s over now)

Talk to me
And 1-2-3
I’ll be there
Bring your groove
I wanna rock with you
Forevermore (ever more)

Michael
Hey what you doin now
Does Marvin know you’re there
Has Jackie come around

Michael
We hope you really hear us
Cuz not a day goes by
When we don’t feel your love
And know that you’re near us

What am I really trying to say in this piece? People are still being moved by Michael Jackson even more than a year and a half after he left this world. People from all walks of life are remembering him in song, in dance, in speeches, in the way they live their lives.

Michael Joseph Jackson is not done with us yet! He doesn’t want us to be prostrate in our guilt and grief; he wants to move us through that grief and fear and guilt to higher ground on the other side. He has work he has placed in our hands – he has left us the world – work that he didn’t get to finish – work that is important and meaningful and long overdue!

I know that I’ve said much the same thing in previous posts, in other words and in other contexts, but that message bears repeating over and over again. We all need to hear it frequently. Many of us are still heartbroken over the loss of which we have still not fully grasped the magnitude, even more than 16 months after his passing.  Many of us still need to heal the pain we continue to feel at the unfairness, bigotry, hatred, greed, malignancy he suffered (and we, perhaps, tolerated) while still incarnated by reaching a place of forgiveness within our hearts – for those who took advantage of him, who persecuted him, who hounded and pursued him – and, perhaps, for ourselves if we looked on in silence and apathy while the world killed this beautiful, loving spirit and four years later, finished the job. We need to recognize that only in forgiveness will we heal our own hearts. I am not suggesting that those responsible should not be held accountable – far from it. But we need to take the hatred, revenge and bitterness out of our quest for ultimate accountability. From that healing we can move forward and raise the banner he held in such high regard – the banner of L.O.V.E.

He still has healing he wants us to carry on in his name … work that will mend our broken world and the kids and each other and our planet. He has left us in charge! And it’s up to us to shoulder our share of the burden and move forward, holding close to our hearts the music, the dance, the message, the example and the inspiration he bequeathed us with all the L-O-V-E in his voluminous heart.

Michael Jackson showed us many things in his short but enormously eventful lifetime. Here is just a short list of the things I learned from him – and may the Good Lord grant me the awareness to live the lessons with one half the grace and style he did. The inspiration for this part of this post comes from Michael, of course, as well as from Gerri Stone, author of Freeing the Heart and her poem What I Learned from Michael Jackson, one of the lines of which I used with her permission in a previous post on this website (see Treat the Voice as the Treasure It Is.) What follows is my partial list:

To love without ego,
To give endlessly without fanfare,
To perform miracles without acknowledgment,
To be strong through unspeakable adversity,
To consistently relay a message without buckling to peer pressure,
To live an exemplary life of service though hounded and pursued by malevolent forces,
To set goals and achieve the impossible,
To adhere to the strictest standards of excellence,
To become one with the music allowing it to have its way in the act of creating itself,
To lift up those less fortunate,
To stand with pride in the face of ridicule,
To be courageous in the face of hatred,
To retain an innocent sense of wonder in the midst of rampant societal cynicism,
To be hugely gifted yet remain humble,
To be beautiful while reflecting the world’s ugliness,
To be in this world while not being of this world,
To remain the person God intended against all odds,
To bring soul into every moment of life,
To be a spiritual being having a human experience.

Now, in his absence, those he has left continue to listen to his voice recorded over the last forty years as he sings his uplifting, spiritually-attuned, socially-conscious, ecologically-responsible messages barely concealed behind infectious rhythms directly into our hearts and souls. Those words inspire us to make a difference in our world using our individual talents and abilities and enthusiasms (whatever they may be) – following our bliss as Michael would have said and as he followed his.

We don’t consider ourselves fans! Just as the title King of Pop was too limiting a title to describe Michael’s genius and global outreach, the label fans is too small a descriptive for Michael’s Army of Love. Each individual in that army has his or her own particular focus, but we are one in our intention to complete Michael Jackson’s ministry of healing our world. It’s a huge task … and daunting, but we are led by an example of unparalleled clarity in many, many centuries and our intent is pure.

While the following is not a comprehensive list of projects undertaken in Michael’s name to carry on his legacy, it does give a few brief descriptions of some of the tasks his Army has undertaken at his behest and on his behalf:

  • A tribute in Russia spearheaded by Michaelers during which a short video was played on jumbotron video screens in the public squares of twenty far-flung cities in that country – twenty different major Russian metropolises all played a short video compilation produced by members of Michael Jackson’s Army on the same day in his honor. In each of the twenty cities, members of the team videotaped the videos being played and compiled all the footage into one magnificent and moving tribute.
  • Army members have pledged to plant one million trees in Michael’s name in challenged and endangered forest areas.
  • A simultaneous prayer vigil with a global reach and orientation sends out a “major love” (as Michael sang in Another Part of Me on the BAD album) on the 25th of each month since shortly after his death (see Major Love Prayer linked on this site). This group’s latest project is a video (for which they are currently accepting photographic contributions from among the community) comprised of photographs of all of Michael Jackson’s Army of Love (or as many as they can gather) set to a beautiful tribute song composed by Amy Grace, a very talented follower who is an artist, singer, and web designer.
  • Gift deliveries for hospitalized children are being organized in several different cities in our world, including Christmas deliveries of toys and books in major cities around our planet.
  • Michaelers have decorated and contributed pieces of fabric to be sewn into stunningly beautiful patchwork quilts for Michael’s mother and three children (photographs of these beautiful quilts can be found at http://www.michaeljacksontributeportrait.com/home.php). The quilts were delivered to the family during the month of August, 2010 in honor of Michael’s birthday.
  • The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait by David Ilan is soliciting the involvement of the world in registering to “be a dot” in a pointillist portrait of Michael. Many luminaries in the entertainment field have signed up for their dots and a full listing of dots assignments as well as an update on the progress of the portrait can be found at the web address in the previous point.
  • Articles, case studies and poems have been written for an educational curriculum whose intent and purpose is to teach middle school through college-aged students about the irreparable damage inflicted by words (see the link to the Words and Violence Curriculum at the Voices Education Project at right). This curriculum is seen as an important step towards healing our broken society and, I believe, Michael would have so supported this project; he was one of the most visible victims of the injury thoughtless words can inflict.
  • Army members write poems or articles or songs … or create video montages for their own little blogs or websites whose focus varies from informing the public of the real Michael Jackson and his numerous contributions to our social and cultural story to vindicating Michael in the court of public opinion to presenting information regarding Michael’s spiritual relevance and ongoing influence.
  • Michaelers contribute to charities that were supported by Michael Jackson in his name so that his charitable work can continue even in his absence (though we know we can never equal his magnanimity.)
  • Two Michaelers have written and illustrated a beautiful, whimsical children’s book about Michael Jackson called Ever After (also linked to the right on this website) whose illustrations are realistic enough to stand against the hundreds of thousands of photographs taken of the man during his life, but whimsical enough to capture and hold a child’s imagination (regardless of age). Twenty percent of the purchase price of each book is donated to charity in Michael’s name.
  • The Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name Campaign took it upon themselves to get Michael’s name restored to the Gardner Street Elementary School Auditorium which he had attended very briefly when he was a child. The auditorium was dedicated to Michael in 1989, a ceremony which he attended to unveil the silver lettering on the façade of the auditorium. After he was accused of inappropriate behavior in 2003, planks of plywood covered his name on the building (totally negating the Constitutional right to presumption of innocence supposedly accorded to all citizens of the United States). When he was acquitted on all fourteen counts, the plywood, by rights, should have been removed. It wasn’t. The Campaign met with the principal of the school and conducted a professional advocacy to remove the planking which succeeded on October 15, 2010. The building once again boasts the foot-tall silver letters that spell out “Michael Jackson Auditorium.”
  • A group of followers in Germany is seeking the support of the city government in proposing a permanent memorial in Munich to replace the temporary memorial that currently exists. Exposed to Munich’s changing weather, it is maintained on a daily basis by several individuals who are dedicated to the erection of a more permanent home for the cards and flowers and photographs housed within a public square.
  • Several Army members keep the site of Michael Jackson’s tomb covered in sunflowers (his favorite flower). Holly Terrace is literally over-run with the bright floral arrangements, particularly on Michael’s birthday, the anniversary of his death and Halloween (one of his favorite holidays). While not allowed inside the mausoleum, a special place has been reserved by the kind folks at Forrest Lawn to accommodate the gifts, photographs, flower arrangements, poems, letters, cards and banners sent by Michaelers the world over.

These are just a few of the projects undertaken by members of Michael Jackson’s Army of Love. As time progresses, I am sure we will see more and more involvement on the part of this Army.

Michael gave us a specific task. He was clear about it. There was nothing ambiguous in his statement.

“Because you are my messengers to heal the world …
And because I love you.

Michael Jackson
Oslo, Norway
1997

Michael Jackson’s Army of Love community is taking its assignment very, very seriously.

Jan

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