We just love to get all sanctimonious and high-and-mighty, don't we?
I'm talking of a collective "we" here - that of our society in general. And not every person in society, of course, but a handful.
Allow me to explain.
I listen to a fair amount of talk radio (an average of 2 hours daily) and it's fair to characterize me as a news junkie. And given the overkill coverage of Michael Jackson over the past few days (and yes, I admit I'm contributing to such on this blog and with this post), I've been hearing a mantra that strikes me as ... well, I have to say it ... hypocritical.
It's this discourse that Michael Jackson's death and the circumstances surrounding such are being blown out of proportion in regards to the death of other, more noble and honorable every day people.
People like the brave and distinguished soldiers who died in Afghanistan over the weekend. A six month old baby who died from the number one genetic cause of infant deaths, a disease no one knows the name to. The list can go on into infinity without mention of a King of Pop but with a proliferation of Kings of Grandpops.
Yes, these people rightly deserve to be memorialized with the same tribute and fanfare afforded to celebrities.
But here's the thing. We say we'd rather watch coverage of a regular soldier's funeral, or even regular people's memorials. And I have no doubt that this is our true intent.
But we don't.
You could say that we're not watching or reading such coverage because it isn't easily available as part of our junk food laden spoon-fed diet of "news." And indeed, coverage of such occurances isn't widely available.
Or is it?
How many of those saying they'd rather see coverage of other, more substantial, more meaningful deaths actually take the time to read the New York Times' Names of the Dead, its ongoing list of fallen heroes?
How many read the article about the soldiers (eight of them, right?) who died in Afghanistan this weekend?
(My intent was to link to these items, but I've just spent about 20 minutes searching for them, in vain. Kind of illustrates my point, I guess.)
How many people watched So You Think You Can Dance instead of Taking Chance? (What's Taking Chance? Here's my post about it.)
How many people even know that North Korea is sending up missiles willy-nilly, the latest (as of this writing) with seven Scuds launched on the Fourth of July? You want a little rockets red glare on your burger? Comin' right up, plenty more to go 'round.
I'm not trying to be all high-and-mighty, holier-than-thou here because I don't have a pedestal to stand on. I haven't earned that spot; I'm not in the military. The closest I come is being the granddaughter of a World War II veteran who was among the 2,500 or so members of that group dying each day. Of all of the activities I've listed above, I've only watched Taking Chance and I only know about the Scuds from reading The Dean's blog post about it. I'm prone to bypassing the hard news in favor of ... well, less worthy stuff. I'm not proud of that. It's embarrassing.
So maybe that's one of the souvenirs we as a society can collectively take away from the Michael Jackson Farewell Tour. To stop and wonder if our attention is truly worthy of this amount of coverage, whether we really want to watch Matt Lauer's reportage from Michael Jackson's bathroom, for God sakes.
And to put our money where our big mouths are, to start with the man (or woman) in the mirror and decide to make a change and seek out the coverage of more worthy, more substantial and substantive news.
I'm gonna make a change for once in my life
It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right
As I, turn up the collar on my favourite winter coat
This wind is blowin' my mind
I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs
A summer's disregard, a broken bottle top and a one man's soul
They follow each other on the wind, ya' know 'cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change ....
Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson