The Man in the Mirror

I’ve been walking around the last couple of days humming Michael Jackson tunes. I never was really a huge fan, and I am surprised how easily (and often) these songs keep popping into my mind this week. It seems that my favorites (according to what I keep humming) are “Man in the Mirror” (which I’ve always liked) and “Billy Jean” (which I didn’t like, but I keep humming for some reason). Someone has said that Michael Jackson songs have been the “soundtrack of our lives,” and maybe that is true. But if I don’t stop humming these songs, I’m going to break into a moonwalk!

I watched excerpts from the Jackson memorial where a lot of people spoke of their close connection to Michael. But the sad truth seems to be that no one was really close to Michael Jackson, at least over any period of time. Diane Diamond, a journalist who covered Jackson for years and wrote a 2005 biography said it was “absolutely a revolving door” in his life as Jackson fired employees, feuded with family, and shunned collaborates and close friends who dared to disagree with him. Diamond says, “There were constantly new people in his life. He didn't want anyone to tell him what to do.

Despite what was said at his funeral, Michael Jackson was a strange man. From the cartoonish way he dressed, to his odd (I hope only odd) behavior toward young boys, to the freakish plastic surgery— Jackson was strange. And I can’t help but wonder of some of that bizarre behavior was the result of the fact that no one was in his life to could tell him, “Michael, uhh, that’s really not a good idea.” What he had were enablers and yes-men who took his money and let him be just as strange as he wanted to be. Maybe the drugs that seemed to have killed him would not have been around if he would have listened to people who loved him. No was there to help him really look at the man in mirror and nudge him toward changing his ways.

God didn’t make any of us to live unaccountable lives. We need a relationship with God, but we also need relationships with other people who will call us into account and keep us honest to ourselves and God. James says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (James 5:16, The Message). We need to make ourselves accountable to others so that when we get a bit strange, we have people who can tell us.

In the movie Quo Vadis, General Marcus Vinicius rides in triumph through the streets of Rome accepting the accolades and praise of the masses of Roman. Behind him is a slave who holds a crown of olive leaves above his head and repeats the words, “Remember, thou art only a man.” If Michael Jackson has close to him to remind him of that, maybe he would still be with us and making music.