Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Larger Scale

If there is anyone in this country who does not know Michael Jackson, I would have to accuse them of living under a rock. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Margo Howard wrote an article today about the frenzy that his death has caused, among the media, among his family, among millions of fans of his music. She referenced a YouTube video from Congressman Peter King (R, NY) expressing confusion that so many people are expressing such sadness over the death of this individual when his morals have previously been called into question in a serious way. She says, "How is it that people are overlooking the person and his actions just because he was a great singer and dancer?" The answer is not a simple one.

If the accusations against Jackson, the person, were proven true (and it should be noted that many people do not believe his acquittal was deserved), it would be undeniable that he was a horrible person. I know the doubt of his innocence is in the minds of many. That's not the point.

The point is that his music and his ability to perform touched many people. Even if he were a deplorable human being, he was still a part of the lives of thousands of strangers. I think that is the part of him that all of those people in LA, around the country, and around the world are honoring.

It strikes me as odd how horrific actions of others can be so easily overlooked. Sure, nothing was proven in this case, but enough was to put the idea of doubt out there. At this point, it is irrelevant.

I know this is what I'm doing. I'm ignoring what I know (and I don't just have doubt to go on, I have knowledge of guilt), and supporting Monty for the part of him that he presented to me. That part of him that I knew, that I know. The other part is there, of course, he cannot be separated from it. I must say I don't know why the other parts are so easily overlooked. What I learned today, however, is that this tendency seems to be natural. Maybe it is born from fear. We don't want to admit that people we care about in one way or another can do wrong, because it means we can all do wrong, so we disregard that part. Maybe someone can be so important that actions that don't directly affect us are immaterial to us. This does not make us without compassion for those that are affected, but rather makes it easier to support the criminals as well as the victims. I think this denial is part of the human condition.

On similar lines and to a lesser extent, a friend of mine was recently in a car accident. She asked us for some good thoughts and prayers for the person who ran into her, the people who stayed to help her, and that the process with insurance companies goes smoothly. The first item on her list was the person who ran into her. He did a bad thing, he made an illegal U-turn and hit her in the process, but she wanted her friends to pray for him. She had difficulty explaining that when we pointed it out to her.

What makes people empathize with the worst among us (not to say that someone making a bad choice in a car is the worst among us, but I hope you get my point)? I think some of it may be that we're all people. Any one of us can be in their place, any one of them can be in our place. Maybe that is where we find compassion, even a kind of affinity for those people.

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