"Oh, God! That boy moves in a very exceptional way. That's the greatest dancer of the century." -- Fred Astaire
"I didn't want to leave this world without knowing who my descendant was. Thank you Michael!" Fred Astaire (shortly before his death)
"The only male singer who I've seen besides myself and who's better than me -- that is Michael Jackson." Frank Sinatra
Michael Jackson died unexpectedly on Thursday, June 25. The suddenness of his death came as a source of shock to all.
Some have used the occasion to present a contemptibly narrow view of his personal struggles. But as the months and years roll by, it is the contribution of his musical genius that will be written permanently in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Even now, the greatest of his peers have recognized him as one of the most gifted and accomplished musical artists of the last century.
Few artists have used their talents to uplift mankind as vigorously as Michael Jackson. Though lean in stature, he stood firmly against social and political forces that seek to diminish the integrity of the human spirit. He uplifted individuals struggling to be free. At the same time his voice spoke a message that went far beyond the rights of the individual. Michael reminded us that personal dignity and individual freedom can only be perfected in the warm embrace of human solidarity.
It was the human family that stood foremost in Michael's mind. "We are the world," he said. And against this backdrop, he challenged freedom-loving individuals to act heroically for the betterment of all. "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change," he said.
Thus Michael Jackson was no spokesman for narcissism, despite the fact that he often sought refuge there. At bottom, his music was driven by the ancient dream of the brotherhood of man. He saw redemption in a bonding of all individuals in simple humanity. Human solidarity -- Love -- was for him the foundation of Justice and the meaning of Life!
Armed with this simple vision, Michael set about to dedicate his life to others. As a young boy, he burst onto the world's stage like a bolt of lightening and, once there, he inspired youth, and the youthful, to act on behalf of justice and the human community. He created a powerful synergy with his audiences and through this confluence helped generate a moral force that over time would help bring the world to a better place.