July 8, 2009
Young Michael Oil Painting by Olympic Artist, Jesse Raudales
The news for the last few days has been dominated by coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial. It doesn’t matter if you are a Michael Jackson fan or not, one thing is for sure. With each news cast that you hear or read, you learn something new about the man and his message.
I had the privilege of watching the Michael Jackson memorial coverage with a room full of teenage girls. As each speaker, video, and singer recanted a memory of Michael Jackson that took me through some stage of my childhood and adulthood, I did as most people around the world are doing in the aftermath of his death. I claimed Michael Jackson as my very own.
I was moved by many parts of the program, however, the words of Congresswoman, Shelia Jackson, resonated with me greatly. She spoke of Michael Jackson’s call to service. She spoke of his desire for the world to love. While calling him a good Samaritan, she spoke not only of his work with charities, but, him addressing U.S. Representatives, members of the Black Caucus, his efforts to end world hunger, eradicate HIV/AIDS, and his visiting Soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital who were wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As I heard these things, I admired Michael Jackson even more. I wished I had known these things about him when he was living. I was now a fan, not just for his music, but, the humanitarian that I am learning he was. I again claimed him as my very own.
As I claimed Michael Jackson as my own, I told the teenage girls in my presence that Michael Jackson belonged to my generation and these are the kinds of things my generation did. I asked the girls, “What is your generation going to do? What are you going to do?”
They responded to my question by asking, “What are you going to do?”
Many of us are still in disbelief that Michael Jackson is no longer with us. But, as we reflect and reminisce, we must still remember, he was a man. It doesn’t matter if you see him as an idol, an icon, singer, songwriter, or dancer, he was a man. His daughter Paris’ heartfelt words and tears remind us of that. He belonged to mankind just as each of us.
In these hours, as we mourn the loss of a superstar, we are filled with sorrow and, sometimes, quiet reflection. Many have said that Michael Jackson brought the world together through his music. He pleaded in not just one song, but many, for the world to change.
Reform is about change.
When the media coverage of his death slows to a halt and the world has reconciled in their minds that Michael Jackson is truly gone, will we really change, or, is this just rhetoric of the moment? While I mourn with the world, I cannot forget that there is a budget that needs to be balanced. There are young minds that need to be educated if there is to truly be a better place “for you and for me and the entire human race. There are people dying if you care enough for the living. Make a better place for you and for me.”
For more info: Featured Artist, Olympic Artist Jesse Raudales www.jesseraudales.com