Goodbye Michael - Time To Make A Change

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unless you've been living under a rock or stranded on a desert island, you've probably heard that Michael Jackson recently died. I just wanted to say a few words about our loss.

I arrived home on July 7th to see my wife watching coverage of the funeral on CNN and I caught the end of the song "We Are The World" being performed. I had just arrived from work and didn't realize that the memorial was being covered at that time. It didn't take long to realize what a big event this was. People pass away all the time and while I'm saddened to see that most anyone has died, some deaths have more of an impact than others. The event reminded me of when John Lennon had died. I had just turned 14 and shortly after waking up, the first thing that I heard was my father telling me that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I wonder, after enough time has passed, how many people will be able to look back and say that they became musicians because of Michael Jackson or John Lennon or how many people will have been influenced by either death in some way.

Driving home the other day I heard that Rep. Nancy Pelosi decided to block efforts to get a resolution in congress passed that would honor Michael Jackson because of the controversy and debate that it would likely cause. I instantly realized that she was right and was saddened to think that something so harmless as a resolution recognizing Michael Jackson in congress wouldn't happen because of such likely controversy! As a society we have become so intolerant of people that are different from ourselves and we're so quick to pass judgment (regardless of if we're asked to do so or not). There are a lot of people claiming to be religious that aren't very tolerant of people different than themselves that would likely have spoke up and the action might have passed but not before a lot of intolerance showed its ugly face.

I have to admit that I've found Michael Jackson rather odd at times but it doesn't take long to realize that a lot of people have found hope in his music and he has touched a lot of lives. None of us have lived the life that he has so it is easy for us to criticize him. Beside all the music that he has made in his life, he did a lot of nice things for other people that didn't get a lot of coverage by the media. Hopefully more of those stories will surface in the coming days. I don't really know what his total involvement was in U.S.A. For Africa, which produced the song "We Are The World" and was the American musician response to Band Aide, but he did lend his image (and accompanying publicity) to the recording and later on in 1985 the world witnessed Live Aid. Band Aide, U.S.A. For Africa, and Live Aide all put a spotlight on starvation in Africa like it had never seen before and the exposure brought it to the top of the the topics in the news, even if it was only for a short while.

"Man in the Mirror" is one song from Michael Jackson that really stands out for me. It is a call for us all to take a look at our lives and make some changes.

"'I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have
Been any clearer
If you wanna make the world
A better place...
Take a look at yourself, and
Then make a change" (thanks to Lyricsfreak for the text)

I'd like to see us all see what changes we can make, how can we make the world a better place and how can our planet be better because we were here. There are so many problems in the world it is hard to figure out where you can start. People often get discouraged and think that that they're only one person what difference can they make? But one person can make a difference! Our world has had many changes over the years and things that seemed like they'd go on forever have changed or ended. If you think about it, slavery existed in America until the Civil War ended it and that was only in the 19th Century, so changes can be made.

"What can I do?" You might be asking yourself.

  • You can start be treating other the way that you'd like to be treated. If more people really did this, there'd already be some profound change
  • Before striking out at someone in actions and/words, give some thought to what your actions might do and maybe you shouldn't do it. Remember how your mom always told you not to do things in anger and to count to 10 before doing something when angry
  • Think about what you buy, do you really need what you're thinking about buying, what benefit will it really bring you and could you possibly better spend your money by buying something else or do something better with your money
  • Demand responsibility from our global corporations. There are too many companies today that don't feel any responsibility to the communities where they're located and to their employees, that are too focused on executive pay, "maximizing shareholder value", and short-term profit. How can it be allowed that CEOs can earn $42 million plus in a year that they announce that they'll cut thousands of jobs from the company's workforce (actually moving the jobs off-shore in most cases)? Become aware of companies that are doing this and let them know that you won't buy their goods or services until they become the responsible global citizens that they should be. Let them know that you'll start or become involved in boycotts
  • Let your leaders know that they shouldn't do business with irresponsible companies
  • Let your leaders know that you want them to look after the average citizen and not just those with lobby power. Unfortunately, the average taxpayer doesn't have to much lobby clout
  • Be more tolerant of others with opinions different than yours. Being judge and jury all the time takes a lot of effort and can be drain your energy
  • Look for things that you can do to help others. If you don't have money to give, you can give your time
  • Be a mentor and share your knowledge and experience
  • Smile and laugh and help someone else to smile and laugh
  • Be creative
In remembrance of Michael Jackson, I challenge you all to take a look in the mirror and see what changes you can make. There are a whole host of things that one person can do. I write about some of them from time to time at Systems Overload and in this blog why not subscribe to them both. In honor of Michael Jackson, I played several of his songs earlier this week at, they have a lot of music from him and a lot of other great music you can listen to (I previously wrote about here). Goodbye Michael, thank you for the music!

Photo Credit: Michael Jackson's Thriller album cover picture found here.