Goodbye Michael

So earlier today there was a funeral in Los Angeles; maybe you heard something about it. Michael Jackson, who died on June 25th, was laid to rest today in Forest Lawn Cemetery after a memorial service at the Staples Center.

It was a landmark event that marked the end of a brilliant but tragic life. Even people who didn’t like Michael have to admit he was a boy and man with incredible talent and genius for what would entertain people. I have to confess that my iPod has a few of his songs and I still enjoy listening to them. He was one of a kind.

Unfortunately he was also tortured by the very talent that made him famous. Much like his former father in law, Elvis Presley he appeared to use great quantities of pain killers to try to cure his emotional and spiritual pain. Elvis died at 42 and Michael at 50, and fans of both try to pass their deaths off as heart attacks.

I believe that the tragedy in Michael’s life is that he didn’t love himself as much as his fans loved him. It all seemed to work as long as he was the talented, youngest member of the Jackson 5. He was young, black, and very talented. But as he grew up he somehow became uncomfortable with the idea of being a black man. In the 1990s his skin began to turn white; he claimed he suffered from a condition called Vitiligo, a condition where patches of skin have no melanin and appear lighter than the rest. Most people of African descent either live with it or find ways to make the patches appear darker. Michael claimed that he lightened the rest of his skin to match the patches. Many health professionals doubt he ever had Vitiligo, and even those who believe him think he made a poor choice in how to treat it. It is generally assumed that he wanted to be white and “bleached” his skin to make him look white.

He also didn’t want to grow up. I personally don’t get this (and am much happier as an adult) but he embraced the innocence of being an eternal child. This ended up being the most controversial part of his life as he built a life around his own imagined childhood: a ranch he called Neverland from Peter Pan. He surrounded himself with children who he saw as playmates. Unfortunately the rest of the world saw these children as victims and him as a pedophile. His claims that they shared his bed as “innocent fun” sickened most of us and gave him a label he never fully understood.

I pray that in death he finally achieve the peace that eluded him in this life.

Goodbye Michael.