07 July 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

I have to admit I feel sorry for the guy. I was never a big Michael Jackson fan, my tastes run more towards grunge and alternative music, but I did enjoy hearing his music from time to time and wouldn't necessarily change the station if he was on the radio. I thought "Off the Wall" was his best album, but I didn't really pay him much attention throughout the rest of his career except for the occasional news story regarding his latest exploits in terms of pet monkeys, hyperbaric chambers and the alleged molestation of children.

The saturation media coverage has become annoying to say the least. The low point for me was when one earnest commentator said that Mr. Jackson was America's version of Lady Di- an unfair comparison, I thought, given that Mr. Jackson actually worked for a living. Another proclaimed "Thriller" to be the greatest album of all time. I could see that to some extent if the basis was sales, but there have been better albums from various bands throughout the years- Nirvana, "Who's Next," "Dark Side of the Moon".....we could debate this for days. The story of his death even managed to knock the situations in Iran and North Korea out of the news mix, and Governor Sanford of South Carolina must have seen his death as a stroke of good luck.

The fundamental thing that the media seems to be struggling with is that people die. No matter how rich, how poor, how weak, how powerful we are, we're all going to end up dead. I think this basic fact of life has been lost on our modern society. We think technology can conquer all. Unlike our ancestors, death seems like a remote thing that happens once in awhile, but something we really don't talk about. Our kids don't see it like they did in past generations- when is the last time your family laid a body out for a wake in the living room ? That remoteness has made it something alien, not to be talked about when in fact it is a natural part of our existence.

"Strive diligently, for all things must pass." These are the words of the Buddha on his deathbed. He knew he was about to die and he left this advice for his followers. They are good words for us as well. Live a good life, be diligent in whatever you do, be moral and upstanding in how you deal with other people, respect life and always try to do the right thing. I struggle to do these things everyday but it is that very struggle which makes us human. Just like Michael Jackson.

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