Last night I watched the memorial service on TV for the ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson.
During the commemoration, two speakers in particular struck me by what they said. The first was the Rev. Al Sharpton. Directly addressing Jackson’s children he said: “There wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with, but he dealt with it…
“As you climb up steep mountains, sometimes you scar your knee. Sometimes you break your skin. But don’t focus on the scars. Focus on the journey. Michael rose to the top. He out-sang his cynics. He out-danced his doubters. He outperformed the pessimists. Every time he got knocked down, he got back up. Every time you counted him out, he came back in. Michael never stopped!”
This got me thinking about where we are right now in a world full of bitter pessimism, loyal workers cut down in their prime by cut-throat organisations and cynics – doubtlessly some who may even scorn or deride this short article.
Later during the event, Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King quoted his father. “In life, one must discover what their calling is. And when they do, they must do their jobs so well that the living, the dead or the unborn could do them no better.
“ if you cannot be a pine on the top of the hill, why just be a shrub in the valley but be the best little shrub on the side of the road. Be a bush if you cannot be a tree. If you cannot be the highway, just be a trail. If you cannot be the sun, just be a star.
“It isn’t by size that you win or you fail. You’ve got to be the best of what you are…In life, if it falls ever on your lot to be a street sweeper, you must sweep streets so well. In fact, you must sweep streets like Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets- like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets like Raphael painted pictures. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heavens and earth and would have to pause and say, here lived the great street sweeper that did his job well.
“On June 25th, because he was the best, I believe heaven and earth did pause, indeed, to say of Michael Joseph Jackson, here lived a great entertainer who did his job well. “
[Stirring stuff]. With luck, as collective souls we enjoy decades on the same planet. For a few very short years of our allotted time together in shared consciousness, part of the sound track to our lives is played by the likes of Jackson. In his case, we watched his life unfold on the television – complete with the tittle-tattle of media freak-show here-say.
None of us really knows how many more years we each have to really listen, not just to the music of others but their actual voices – and in return be heard.
Thinking about what King said, I recollect the words of Gandhi who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I respectfully add to King’s sentiments: be the best you can. Live so others can honestly be inspired and guided by the thought that ‘here is a person who lives his life well’.
Moreover so that those souls who are yet to be will one day talk of your greatness – however seemingly modest to you right now but in fact, in terms of the bigger picture, exceedingly great.
In memory of Michael Joseph Jackson