It seems that Michael Jackson was able to bring out the best in us, and the worst. His legacy is filled with triumph and talent, as well as temptation and torment. Here are five lessons that his life and death have highlighted for us all:
Great talent transcends barriers -- Michael Jackson was an undisputed talent, from childhood until his death. While prejudice still exists around us, talent has a way of breaking down these walls. If the product is good enough, people will embrace the output, forgo pejorative thoughts and forgive the creator for nearly every error in thought or deed.
We live for the spectacle -- It is hard for me to comprehend the amount (and length) of media coverage given to one persons passing. And yet, I watched. The OJ Simpson trial first surfaced our insatiable appetite for 'the spectacle' -- a psychological blemish that seems to exist in nearly everyone. Michael Jackson has always been a perfect source to feed our addiction.
Fame and fortune may not buy happiness, but it will guarantee you stalkers, leaches and sycophants -- CNN, July 7th, 2009: "The Staple's center will be filled today with nearly 20,000 people; 12,000 of them are simply fans of Michael Jackson." Say what? So, who are the other 8,000?! Quick math: 2,000 lawyers, 10 family, 1000 extended family, 1000 media, 2000 extended media, and 2000 cherry pickers looking for falling scraps. Oh, and Jesse Jackson (The Jackson 6?) and Al Sharpton, who seem to do this professionally.
We can't count on those closest to us to do the right thing -- No sooner was Michael's body removed from his residence, than were his belongings being stripped from the house like a mass looting. Reports are surfacing that doctors, friends and family may have been facilitating his physical demise more than they were helping it. Et tu, Brute?
Success is a short-lived joy -- We all want our children to be successful. To be the best, even. How about the best in the world? Ever? Would we wish that for them? The saddest commentary about Michael Jackson's life is that he represented the ultimate level of talent and success that any of us could ever hope for, and yet he seemed to have lived a restless, sad and extremely lonely life. Is there a starker reminder that material success and all the trappings that surround it are so often a false goal?
Happiness, it turns out, is an entirely different journey.
Follow Rick Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RickSmithAuthor