Thursday, July 2, 2009

Love & Death

When I heard that Michael Jackson had suddenly passed, I was shocked but not really that surprised. In the last few years as his skin took on the look of alabaster and his features were sculpted into a doll-like mask, it seemed obvious that this was a tortured soul who was crying out for…help…love…truth…friendship…

But now, as life-after-Michael unfolds in the media, I am struck by the incredible outpouring of what seems to be love coming from ‘close friends’, family, and fans. Every TV channel, newspaper, talk show, and website replays a constant loop of Michael in various stages of skin color and diminishing features. His music is everywhere. He is praised for his songwriting, his dancing, his generosity and his kindness. A few weeks ago I doubt if many of these people would have admitted as much.

Without getting into a discussion about his innocence or guilt regarding charges of child molestation, after his acquittal, Michael left the country in a self-imposed exile. He felt betrayed and hurt. He was bankrupt and he couldn’t sell a record or fill a concert hall.

I can’t help but think that if one of the people claiming to be a close friend, or “brother” had reached out with an authentic heart and offered a loving hand, things might have been different. It’s obvious that many of his family and so-called friends saw Michael as a money train. He understood that; I think he probably even forgave it, and now that he’s gone and firmly established in the pantheon of celebrity royalty, that train is likely to deliver carloads of cash to whoever’s on board. I sincerely hope that the money is able to fill any holes in their hearts.

I don’t doubt that there are many fans and many friends who do truly love Michael. Maybe it took something as monumental as death to make them understand that love. It’s just too bad that Michael never heard the praise or felt much of the love. He needed it.

As yogis we can use this tragedy as a reminder about being compassionate. Some people are easier to love, while others are easier to judge. Each of us can surely make more of an effort to offer love instead of criticism. There may be someone in your life right now who is struggling terribly. A kind word, a genuine smile, or a warm hug may provide the only light in an otherwise gray existence. Remember that one small compassionate gesture can save someone’s life. Maybe one day, even yours.

Don’t stop till you get enough,