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 Chapter Two: The Weak Can Never Forgive

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PostSubject: Chapter Two: The Weak Can Never Forgive   15th December 2016, 2:31 pm

Chapter Two: The Weak Can Never Forgive


"On these magic shores children at play are forever beaching their coracles.
We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf,
though we shall land no more"    
 
       
('Peter Pan and Wendy' by J.M.Barrie)




Michael has often talked about how hard it was for him and his brothers to rehearse for hours upon hours. As an adult Michael is his own worst critic, when it comes to producing music and performing. Michael has revealed how strictly he was disciplined by his father when he was a child. It´s a sensitive subject, since the tabloid press has elaborated on the facts, but once more, I try to relate only to the spoken words of Michael.

Undoubtedly it has not always been an easy relationship, especially in the beginning when your father is your agent and your family rely on you to help earn the money.

Michael recalls that at a very young age, he´d get paid an amount, which is hard for anyone to comprehend, let alone a child:

”Yeah I remember getting 200.000 dollar checks in the mail when I was like 12-13 years old. I used to get these monthly. My father would say well what do you want to do with it? I say well of course we should put it away. . .but he would give me a certain amount to buy things that I wanted to buy. And what I would buy was some bubble gum and some candy and stuff like that”.

Then Michael would give away the candy to children around him. His sense of sharing with others started at a very young age.

But although many harsh comments have been made about Michael´s money and the way he chooses to spend it, no one can argue that he worked hard, really hard to earn it. It seems unnecessary to add that it could never be anyone´s business, but his own, when it comes to spending his own income. Nevertheless the slander also pulled him around the media circus on this particular topic. We´ll get back to that later.



In the Oprah Winfrey interview from 1993, Oprah asks Michael about the relationship with his father.

He replies:

”I love my father, but I don´t know him”.


When asked if he is angry with his father for teasing him as a child, saying he was ugly,
Michael says:

”Am I angry with him? Sometimes I do get angry.. I don´t know him the way I´d like to know him. My mother is wonderful. To me she´s perfection. I just wish I could understand my father”.


Oprah states the fact that Michael hasn't given an interview in 14 years and Michael merely replies:

”I felt there wasn't anything important for me to say, and those were sad, sad years for me”.

Why was Michael sad in spite of his success, performing and achieving Grammy after Grammy?

He recalls:

”Oh there´s a lot of sadness about my past and adolescence, about my father and all of those things”.


Oprah enters the sensitive subject of disciplin, when asking Michael if his father ever beat him.

Michael answers: ”Yes”.

Oprah continues:”And why would he beat you?”

Michael looks for an explanation:

”He saw me, he wanted me, I guess..I don´t know if I was his golden child or whatever, but he was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you”.


Oprah gently asks if Michael was afraid of his father and Michael says:

”Very. Like, there´s been times when he´d come to see me, I´d get sick, I´d start to regurtitate”.

Oprah asks whether this happened when Michael was a child or as an adult.

”Both. He´s never heard me say this. I´m sorry, please don´t be mad at me”.


Oprah goes on, talking about how everybody has to take responsability for what they´ve done in life and that his father is one of those people. Michael strongly stresses that he has strong feelings for his father:

”But I do love him! And I am forgiving”.


Oprah wonders if he can really forgive and Michael says: ”I do forgive”.

Then he turns to the subject of the tabloid press, to tell the world that they are liars. This is one of his main reasons for giving the interview.




In an interview given to OK ! Magazine upon the birth of Michael´s first son, Prince, Michael speaks kindly about his father, when asked what sort of dad he will try to be:

”The best! My father was always there for us through the stardom of the Jackson 5 and through the ups and downs that followed. I too, will always be there for my son. It's the most important thing in the world to me”.





Speaking with Martin Bashir (”Living with Michael Jackson”), Michael thinks back of when he first discovered that he had a special musical talent:

”My mother caught me, making my bed one day and I was singing. And she said to my father that I could sing, and he didn't want to hear of it. You know, he said that Jermaine is the lead singer, not Michael. My mother said:"Joe, you really should hear him sing; he can sing". He goes:"No. Jermaine is the lead singer of the group and that´s it"...(giggles)...she forced him to listen to me and once he listened to me, from that moment on I was the lead singer of the group. . .My entire childhood I remember people always saying to me: He is a 42 year old midget. At first I didn't understand, but what they meant was that the way I, you know moved on stage and the way I sang...like you say the reflections whatever”.

Bashir: ”Did someone teach you to do that?”

Michael: ”No, you can´t teach that you can´t teach it. It has to come from inside. It´s a gift, you know”.


It is difficult for Michael to recall a childhood without performing:

”I was 5 years old. And it was at a public school recital. We had to wear white shirts and short knickers. And I remember them saying:”Little Michael Jackson is coming up to sing ”Climb Every Mountain”. I got the biggest applause. When I went to my seat my grandfather and mother were crying. They said: We can´t believe how beautiful you sound”. That´s the first one I remember”.




In an Ebony interview, Michael talks about how his father taught him the way in show business, the good and the bad sides and how his father wanted his brothers to learn from him: ”Show' em Michael! Show' em!”

When asked whether his brothers were jealous of his talents, he says:

”They never showed it at the time, but it must have been hard, because I would never get spanked during rehearsal or practice (laughter). But afterwards was when I got in trouble (laughter). It´s true, that´s when I would get it. My father would rehearse with a belt in his hand. You couldn´t mess up. My father was a genius when it comes to the way he taught us, staging, how to work an audience, anticipating what to do next, or never let the audience know if you are suffering, or if something´s gone wrong. He was amazing like that”.

Michael clearly states where he got his business sense and how to control the whole package:

”My father, experience; but I learned a lot from my father. He had a group when he was a young person called ”The Falcons”. They came over and they played music, all the time, so we always had music and dancing. It´s that cultural thing that Black people do. You clear out all the furniture, turn up the music...when company comes, everybody gets out in the middle of the floor, you gotta do something. I loved that”


Question:”Do your kids do that now?”
Michael: ”They do, but they get shy. But they do it for me sometimes”.




In the Bashir documentary Michael is asked a lot of questions about the relationship with his father and it is evident that the mission of this documentary is to make Michael look weird and blame his behaviour on his upbringing. It struck me as kind of a ”Let-me-be-nice-to-you-and-understand-your-problems-to-make-you-talk-and-then-I-go-for-the-kill” line of questioning. There is no doubt this documentary stirred up enormous problems for Michael.

Bashir:”When you would be practicing you were very heavily disciplined by your father?”

Michael "Umm..."


Bashir:”What was that like?”


Michael clearly feels uncomfortable at this line of questions, but answers:

”Hea...ah...well I didn't have it that hard cause he used me as the example. It was like:"Do it like Michael!" you know and he practiced us with a belt in his hand and if you miss a step, expect to be... uh ´whipwhipwhip´.


Bashir:
”Just let me go back. You just said that you would practice the dance steps and your father would be holding a belt...”


Michael: ”Yeah...”

Bashir:
”...in his hand. Is that what you just said?”


Michael:”Yes...and he would tear you up if you missed and so we... not only were we practicing, we were nervous rehearsing. Because he sat in a chair and he had this belt in his hand and if you didn't do it the right way he would tear you up... really get you. I got it a lot of times but I think my brother Marlon got it the most, because he had a hard time at first and he tried so hard and it was always:"Do it like Michael. Do it like Michael", you know but the others were very nervous and I was nervous too you know because he was tough”.

Bashir: ”How often would he beat you?”

Michael:
”...hmmm too much”.


At this time of the interview Michael is clearly very uncomfortable, not to mention the damaging effect these kind of questions can have on a person, when not being the part of a professional therapeutic session. It is so obvious that Michael must feel trapped, as the agreement for the documentary was ”to give an honest, candid and revealing look into the private life of one of the worlds most successful and controversial celebrities”. Michael´s mission was to finally make the world see him as a normal, loving person and devoted father and to deal with all the tabloid trash stories. Instead, in my humble opinion, he got hell; jumped right out of the frying pan and into the fire. Talking about such sensitive matters should be dealt with given the out most care and respect. Michael allowed this man inside the gates of Neverland and inside his heart. And he was betrayed. The questions continue:

Bashir: ”Would he only use a belt?”

Michael: ”Why do you do this to me?” (in tears, voice trembling, quickly covering his eyes)



”No, more than a belt!”

Bashir: "What else would he use to hit you with?"

Michael: ”Iron cords, whatever is around throw you up against the wall hard as he could umm...see its one thing to. ."

Bashir: ”But you were only a child”


Michael: ”I know”

Bashir: ”You were a baby”

Michael: ”I know, it is one thing to discipline..”

Bashir: ”And you were producing successful records”

Michael: ”I know. He would lose his temper. I just remember hearing my mother scream: "Joe you´re gonna kill him you´re gonna kill him, stop it you´re gonna kill him, you know and uh.. I was so fast he couldn´t catch me half the times, but when he would catch me, oh my God, it was bad, it was really bad...We were terrified of him, terrified I can´t tell you. I dont he realized to this day how scared, scared I mean scared so scared that we...I would regurtitate”.

Bashir: ”You would vommit?”

Michael:"Uh hum.."

Bashir: ”When would you vomit? What would produce that sort of reaction in you?”

Michael: ”His presence. Just seeing him and uh some times I´d faint and my bodyguards would have to hold me up... uh uh”

Bashir: ”When he was beating you, did you hate him?”

Michael: ”Yeah strong hate. That´s why to this day I don´t lay a finger on my children I don´t want them to ever feel that way about me ever and he didn´t allow us to call him daddy and I wanted to call him daddy so bad. He said: "I´m not daddy I´m Joseph to you”, you know and I totally forgive him for all of it, you know, you have to but I dont allow my children to call me Michael. I say I´m daddy. It´s just the opposite so when people will say "the abused abuse" that´s not true. That´s not true at all”.

Michael felt that what TV journalist Martin Bashir presented was a twisted and edited construction of scandal and innuendo, not a true representation of the interviews that actually took place. In a response to the documentary, Michael released the footage from the documentary recorded with Michael´s own camera.
Michael always openly videotaped events around him for later viewing. In this case it turned out to be a very good idea. In the footage: 'Living With Michael Jackson, Take Two”, you see a continuation of the questions regarding his relationship with his father, which wasn't in the original released documentary. It is a summary of questions, which were intended to elaborate on questions, which Martin Bashir didn't feel had been answered to his full satisfaction. He even states this very clearly as he narrates the documentary.

Regarding the father/son relationship:

Bashir: ”Do you remember when you first said to me you just wanted to run away from your father?”

Michael: ”I hated... I used to hide.. He just...I don´t think how much he hurt me when I was little, but he is a genius...the man is a genius...in he same time he was a genius...he always is..”

Bashir: ”But Michael, he injured you when you were a child”

Michael: ”Yeah, but look what came out of it. Maybe I wouldn't have the affection for kids that I have today and wanted to help them”.

Michael had looked for a reason for him having to experience this as a child, but it didn't fit the context of the documentary and was left out. Being able to forgive is very important to be able to move on in life and Michael had a lot of practice in this area, having been wronged and hurt so many times in his life.




Mahatma Gandhi wrote:
”The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”.


Two years earlier, in 2001, Michael quotes Gandhi in his Oxford speech, when he talks of forgiveness:

”They say that parenting is like dancing. You take one step, your child takes another. I have discovered that getting parents to re-dedicate themselves to their children is only half the story. The other half is preparing the children to re-accept their parents. When I was very young I remember that we had this crazy mutt of a dog named Black Girl, a mix of wolf and retriever. Not only wasn't she much of a guard dog, she was such a scared and nervous thing that it is a wonder she did not pass out every time a truck rumbled by, or a thunderstorm swept through lndiana. My sister Janet and I gave that dog so much love, but we never really won back the sense of trust that had been stolen from her by her previous owner. We knew, he used to beat her. We didn't know with what. But whatever it was, it was enough to suck the spirit right out of that dog. A lot of kids today are hurt puppies who have weaned themselves off the need for love. They couldn't care less about their parents. Left to their own devices, they cherish their independence. They have moved on and have left the parents behind. Then there are the far worse cases of children who harbor animosity and resentment toward their parents, so that any overture that their parents might undertake would be thrown forcefully back in their face. Tonight, I don't want any of us to make this mistake. That is why I'm calling upon all the world's children - beginning with all of us here tonight – to forgive our parents, if we felt neglected. Forgive them and teach them how to love again.

You probably weren't surprised to hear that I did not have an idyllic childhood. The strain and tension that exists in my relationship with my own father is well documented. My father is a tough man and he pushed my brothers and me hard, from the earliest age, to be the best performers we could be. He had great difficulty showing me affection. He never really told me he loved me. And he never really complimented me either. lf I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show. And if I did an OK show, he would say nothing. He seemed intent above all else, on making us a commercial success. And at that he was more than adept. My father was a managerial genius and my brothers and I owe our professional success, in no small measure, to the forceful way that he pushed us. He trained me as a showman and under his guidance I couldn't miss a step.

But what I really wanted was a Dad. I wanted a father who showed me love. And my father never did that. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow at me, or a water balloon. But I remember once when I was about four years old, there was a little carnival and he picked me up an put me on a pony. lt was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that moment I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that´s how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything. I only experienced it that one time, but it made me feel really good, about him and the world.

But now I am a father myself and one day I was thinking about my own children, Prince and Paris and how I wanted them to think of me when they grow up. To be sure, I would like them to remember how I always wanted them with me wherever I went, how I always tried to put them before everything else. But there are also challenges in their lives. Because my kids are stalked by paparazzi, they can't always go to a park or a movie with me. So what if they grow older and resent me, and how my choices impacted their youth? Why weren't we given an average childhood like all the other kids, they might ask? And at that moment I pray that my children will give me the benefit of the doubt. That they will say to themselves: "Our daddy did the best he could, given the unique circumstances that he faced. "He may not have been perfect, but he was a warm and decent man, who tried to give us all the love in the world." I hope that they will always focus on the positive things, on the sacrifices I willingly made for them, and not critizise the things they had to give up, or the errors I've made, and will certainly continue to make, in raising them. For we have all been someone's child, and we know that despite the very best of plans and efforts, mistakes will always occur. That' s just being human.

And when I think about this, of how I hope that my children will not judge me unkindly, and will forgive my shortcomings, I am forced to think of my own father and despite my earlier denials, I am forced to admit that he must have loved me. He did love me, and I know that. There were little things that showed it. When I was a kid I had a real sweet tooth - we all did. My favorite food was glazed doughnuts and my father knew that. So every few weeks I would come downstairs in the morning and there on the kitchen counter was a bag of glazed doughnuts - no note, no explanation - just the doughnuts. It was like Santa Claus, Sometimes l would think about staying up late at night, so l could see him leave them there, but just like with Santa Claus, l didn't want to ruin the magic for fear that he would never do it again. My father had to leave them secretly at night, so as no one might catch him with his guard down. He was scared of human emotion, he didn't understand it or know how to deal with it. But he did know doughnuts. And when I allow the floodgates to open up, there are other memories that come rushing back, memories of other tiny gestures, however imperfect, that showed that he did what he could. So tonight, rather than focusing on what my father didn't do, I want to focus on all the things he did do and on his own personal challenges. I want to stop judging him.

I have started reflecting on the fact that my father grew up in the South, in a very poor family. He came of age during the Depression and his own father, who struggled to feed his children, showed little affection towards his family and raised my father and his siblings with an iron fist. Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope, struggling to become a man in a world that saw my father as subordinate. I was the first black artist to be played on MTV and I remember how big a deal it was even then. And that was in the 80s!My father moved to lndiana and had a large family of his own, working long hours in the steel mills, work that kills the lungs and humbles the spirit, all to support his family. ls it any wonder that he found it difficult to expose his feelings? ls it any mystery that he hardened his heart, that he raised the emotional ramparts? And most of all, is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers, so that they could be saved from what he knew to be a life of indignity and poverty? I have begun to see that even my father´s harshness was a kind of love, an imperfect love, to be sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. Because he wanted no man ever to look down at his offspring.

And now with time, rather than bitterness, I feel blessing. ln the place of anger, I have found absolution. And in the place of revenge I have found reconciliation- And my initial fury has slowly given way to forgiveness. Almost a decade ago, I founded a charity called Heal the World. The title was something I felt inside me. Little did I know, as Shmuley (Jewish rabbi) later pointed out, that those two words form the cornerstone of Old Testament prophecy.

Do I really believe that we can heal this world, that is riddled with war and genocide, even today? And do I really think that we can heal our children, the same children who can enter their schools with guns and hatred and shoot down their classmates, like they did at Columbine? Or children who can beat a defenseless toddler to death, like the tragic story of Jamie Bulger? Of course I do, or I wouldn't be here tonight. But it all begins with forgiveness, because to heal the world, we first have to heal ourselves. And to heal the kids, we first have to heal the child within, each and every one of us. As an adult, and as a parent, I realize that I cannot be a whole human being, nor a parent capable of unconditional love, until I put to rest the ghosts of my own childhood. And that's what I'm asking all of us to do tonight. Live up to the fifth of the 10 Commandments. Honor your parents by not judging them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. That is why I want to forgive my father and to stop judging him. I want to forgive my father, because I want a father, and this is the only one that I've got. I want the weight of my past lifted from my shoulders and I want to be free to step into a new relationship with my father, for the rest of my life, unhindered by the goblins of the past"




To all of you tonight who feel let down by your parents, I ask you to let down your disappointment. To all of you tonight who feel cheated by your fathers or mothers, I ask you not to cheat yourself further. And to all of you who wish to push your parents away, I ask you to extend your hand to them instead. I am asking you, I am asking myself to give our parents the gift of unconditional love, so that they too may learn how to love from us, their children. So that love will finally be restored to a desolate and lonely world.

Shmuley once mentioned to me an ancient Biblical prophecy which says that a new world and a new time would come, when "the hearts of the parents would be restored through the hearts of their children". My friends, we are that world, we are those children.

Mahatma Gandhi said: "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the  strong." Tonight, be strong. Beyond being strong, rise to the greatest challenge of all - to restore that broken covenant. We must all overcome whatever crippling effects our childhoods may have had on our lives and in the words of Jesse Jackson, forgive each other, redeem each other and move on. This call for forgiveness may not result in Oprah moments the world over, with thousands of children making up with their parents, but it will at least be a start, and we'll all be so much happier as a result. And so ladies and gentlemen, I conclude my remarks tonight with faith, joy and excitement. From this day forward, may a new song be heard. Let that new song be the sound of children laughing. Let that new song be the sound of children playing. Let that new song be the sound of children singing. Let that new song be the sound of parents listening. Together let us create a symphony of hearts, marveling at the miracle of our children and basking in the beauty of love. Let us heal the world and blight its pain. And may we all make beautiful music together. God bless you and I love you".







Later in 2001, in an interview with TV Guide concerning his 30th anniversary at The Madison Square Garden, he is asked about his relationship with his father. Michael answers:

"It's much better now. He´s a much nicer person now. He's mellowed out a lot since he's had grandchildren, you know. He has thirty something grand kids now. ...He was at the show. But my father, if he feels you've done a good show, he´ll just go: "Good show!" He won´t say, "Oh, you did wonderful". I don´t think he knows how to show affection...

I have the best relationship now that I've ever had with him. I think with age and time he´s really mellowed out to become a nice person. He´ll simply say to me: "How are you doing? Are you eating? That´s all I wanted to know". Not: "Did you sign that contract?". He just want to know if I´m okay. I think that is really nice.. and my mother is like the perfect angel".


I guess that amidst all the slander and innuendo, it is safe to say that like on so many other issues of Michael's life, he has done some thorough soul searching, being the spiritual man that he is and has found a meaning with the abuse. A part of the mission to feel the pain of others in order to heal the world. His experiences didn't leave him cold, on the contrary, it sharpened his gift of empathy. Furthermore I guess it led him to believe that a person isn't bad, but his actions may be. So rather than to distance yourself from somebody, you must distance yourself from their actions. Now that´s a very different way of perceiving mankind. To believe the best in another human being and look for their good deeds and resources. Something a tabloid trash reporter could never comprehend.



Magical Child -Part Two



























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