Friday, 10 July 2009

Die To Live

I read this article in The Hindustan Times newspaper yesterday written by Suhel Seth
of New Delhi
Found it worthwhile to share it here.


July 7, 2009, will go down as a date on which perhaps Michael Jackson was born again. The world showered affection not just by being glued to their TV sets, not to mention the thousands that thronged the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Indeed, the King of Pop is dead. Long live the King. What makes us human beings behave the way we do when our fallen icons leave the planet? Why do we treat them as pariahs one day and then pay accolades at their memorial services?
In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Calpurnia says, “When beggars die, there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes”. And how right Shakespeare was. But then again, in the same play, Mark Antony, commenting on Caesar’s death, says, “ The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones”. This time round, in the context of Jackson, Shakespeare is perhaps wrong.
I was one of the millions who sat glued to TV sets watching the memorial service, mourning Jackson as if he were family. But, in the process we created a brand that has — in some weird way — come alive, only through death. This is perhaps a story of a brand that would be vilified if alive and edified if dead. The memorial service, therefore, was for a dead man but was actually celebrating the birth of an ‘alive’ brand. But this is the story not just of human brands but those that are inanimate.
Many gawkers still peer out and smile at the sight of a parked Concorde at Heathrow only because that brand no longer takes to the skies. In many ways, the Concorde, when in service, was a brand that was either too expensive to experience or seen as yet another toy in the sky. But the day British Airways made an announcement of terminating it, people flocked to it. And they still reminisce with pride and delight.
So what is Brand Jackson’s legacy other than his music, of course? I believe his legacy will surpass that of being just an entertainer. The complexities in his life and the paradoxes in his engagement with the world at large will make him a brand riddled with mystique which will only add to his longevity in people’s hearts and minds. And this is true not just of Jackson but also of many like him. Those who lived in the public domain and yet captivated and confused the masses.
Have we forgotten the thousands of flowers and candles that were placed outside Buckingham Palace when Lady Diana died? At that moment, the wayward Princess was suddenly repositioned as the People’s Princess. Death has a strange way in positioning human brands. Post Diana’s death, there has been every attempt both by the establishment and people to deify her and only talk about her virtuous life: you won’t see newspapers carrying photos of her and Dodi Al Fayed anymore, but of her visiting land-mine riddled sites instead. Today, the photographs of Diana have almost an angelic tinge and this is the way Jackson will go too.
The media will also (and already has) become more forgiving. The photograph of Jackson dangling his child from a hotel balcony will be replaced with that of him with Nelson Mandela. Public memory, where a human brand is concerned, is by and large conditioned to celebrate rather than criticise. In some strange way, it is no truer than in what we see has happened to Jackson.
It is indeed sad, but perhaps inevitable, that Michael Jackson had to die on June 25, 2009, only so that he could live forever.
Suhel Seth is Managing Partner, Counselage, a Delhi-based brand and marketing consultancy
I watched the first half of the memorial concert, and switched off as it was late night in India.
To me it seemed more in tune with an M TV Awards nights than a memorial service, tickets and all.
There is another kind of dying which the Bible speaks of.
Jesus said;
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. " John 12,24,25
This was in reference to His own imminent death on the cross.But His words illustrate the fact that the Christian life is a paradox.
To keep, we must give
To be great, we must serve
To live,we must die. And not until we die to self , will we realize the real joy of giving, or the emptiness of keeping.
(the bold script is adapted from Charles Swindoll 's study guide on the Gospel of John)

20 Fertilize my soul:

Kathryn said...

I've only watched some of the Jackson coverage here & there. It has been rather over the top & many folks are quite tired of it.

The M. Jackson story is a tragedy in so many ways. I think much of the hoopla is simply remembering our own pasts when we saw him at certain times (i don't remember him as a child, more from the 80s) & it can bring back fond memories now gone.

Yes, he died & lives on as often is the case especially in our modern world. (Marilyn Monroe, Jack Kennedy, Elvis, Princess Diana, many more.)

But it is better, as the words you quote say, to die to ourselves here, while living, so that we may live on in greater joy.

Donetta said...

Your post is very wise indeed and so true of these things. It is that innate need to belong that makes it ok to be bad if your only remembering the few good things done. How many identify with that. Those who feel god about themselves vicariously

Gerry said...

I enjoyed reading this take on Michael Jackson's death. Also I took the banner off to make it easier for those with dial-up to access my journal as there are several in the US I don't want to inconvenience either. Gerry

PAQUET said...

Dear Choti,
That message was powerful ,i intend to use it for my sermon.For me to live is Christ to die is gain.What we gain is an eternal life in His presence.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

Halloo Amrita!

Poor Michael Jackson. I think he was a lost soul. But now he is home.

Shelley said...

Blessings to you,Amrita....

Crown of Beauty said...

This was such a moving post, dear Amrita, both the article you posted, and what you wrote about the kernel of wheat dying.

I have always been a firm believer of life out of death, and so it is true, Michael Jackson's death, and that of Lady Diana's, point to the fact that out of death comes life.

And it is true whether one is a celebrity or not. The kernel of wheat is such a beautiful picture of dying to self.

Thank you for this post.


ChrisB said...

I have to say I didn't watch any of the MJ memorial.

Wise words in the bible quotes. Great post.

Saija said...

i don't think anyone had to clean up Jesus image ... His words remain true and relevant!

Terry said...

dear amrita,
i was glued to this post.
it is so true what the man said.
yeh michael jackson born again in the world's sight but oh only if he had been really born again in the sight of the lord. how great THAT would have been!
we don't know of course if it happened or not...we can not be the judges but god is not willing that any should perish and he is so long suffering to us sinners.
i really like the verses that you used at the end of your post and the explanation of salvation, that jesus freely gives at the cost of his own death on the cross.
while i read your post and while i am now commenting, the sweet and godly music that crown of beauty put on her blog is playing.
i don't know how that happened but i am glad that it is!
bernie says it is ten o'clock where you are and the song playing is "This is your daily bread"..
oh that michael and farrah fawcett would of had the lord...
take care dear amrita, little mama and terry

David C Brown said...

"For ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God", Col 3: 1. How great the believer's position is because Christ has died for us!

Glennis said...

Well written comments concerning Michael Jackson and Princess Diana.
I believe The Princess deserved the adulation, sure she was troubled with a bad marriage, but she died in a dreadful accident, if one discounts the conspiracy theory, while Jackson died in a drug induced stupor maybe by his own hand, no contest over who deserved the adoration I think. But sadly many will deify Jackson because he could dance and sing loudly while bleaching his skin, and because billions were spent on his funeral to make sure he wasn't forgotten.
You can hear I wasn't impressed with him at all.
Nice to read Jesus's words on the subject.

Sara said...

what an inspired post today. there has been much of m.j. that i have not bothered to read; being repeats of the same information repackaged to look "new." this, however, may be the first article that has had soul value to me with your touch added. beautiful, true and sad all at once.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Amrita:)

All said and written about Michael Jackson, I admire this man. He is an icon and a legend. Many may not agree with me. My children were crazy about him when they were young. I sat with my family and listened to his singing and dancing for hours. We used to have animated discussions on his unique dancing style. He had millions and millions of adoring fans all over the world. He is a great man, a great entertainer who enthralled the world.

He is also a great man in another sense. He is from a poor family. But he rose to dizzying heights through sheer hard work. He was not good looking, he had no education , he had no well built athletic body, his voice was terrible. But despite these disadvantages, he glittered like a bright star in the firmament. He became the envy of many. His dedication, determination, hard work, concentration , sense of purpose in bettering himself is extraordinary and worth y of emulation. A little man with a lion heart . He stood tall among men.

May his soul rest in peace.

I was a great admirer of Diana’s beauty. But I did not like her extra marital affairs. She brought shame to British monarchy. She was a fantastic lady but demeaned herself. I don’t think Mother Teresa would have approved of her behavior.

These two people are a great contrast. One rose up from the depths of poverty and the other went down in the quagmire of shame. One was practically not good looking and the other was a very beautiful woman. One brought glory to himself and the other brought shame upon herself. I am fully aware many will not agree with me.

Your quotes were excellent and inspiring. I enjoyed reading this post very much. The photos are fantastic.

Have a nice day Amrita:)

Amrita said...

Dear friends thank you so much for your valuable and worthy observations.I really appreciate the way each one of you have added to what I was trying to present here.

Hi Prem, good to see your comment.

Dear David welcome to my blog. You are an inspirational writer brother.

I am an admirer of MJ 's music ( specially the early albums) but was sad to see his reckless choices destroy him. The same happened with Princess Di, She was such a beauty, but she tried to escape from her life and problems in ways whch did not do her any good.I have her wedding souviner

The world will remember these two for their attempts at goodness. Maybe that is their redemption.

The Bible says our most righteous acts are like dirty rags before the Lord. We are saved by faith and nto by our good works although our faith should be translated in our works.

That is why we have to die - empty ourselves before God in order to live.Its submitting to the majesty of God and letting Him mold us. Its not a subservient vassal kind of fealty, like God would kick us like a dog under the table. No He picks us up from the cesspool of life and cleans us up , gives us new righteous clothes, writes our names in the Lamb 's Book of Life forever and gives is eternal life.

Bluebirdy said...

Amrita, I am praying for you for Monday. Good article about MJ. He IS a god to many who have no other God, like Elvis and Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe were. more people mourned him, and said he was a large part of their life and watched this funeral than Princess Diana's, and hers was also world wide. There were 40 million albums sold in the week after his death. That is the same amount as the album that also sold 40 million and broke all sales records for music up until that time.
Blessings and hugs,

Pia said...

i feel so bad that michael's gone. but i'm glad he was finally redeemed. so many negative comments were thrown at him and now the truth behind those nasty stories are slowly coming out. i feel bad because he lived a sad life having dealt with people who misjudged him already. it's just so sad. makes me want to cry everytime i watch him on tv.

David C Brown said...

Thanks for your positive comments on your blog and mine. Grace be with you. If you like my stuf you could look at .

Anonymous said...

I came across this post while looking up brand and marketing consultancy . I really like the way you talk about Michael Jackson and princess Diana. MJ will live in my heart forever!

Amrita said...

Hi mackensie, thank you for your comment. I invite to visit my blog an d shar e your thoughts in my comment box.