Ten years ago I had a talk with my father that became a rather strange source of comfort. The conversation concerned the worries that had begun to prey on his mind after I had been born.
I was born in 1980. It was the tail-end of the Cold War – an era of fear endured by an entire generation that passively imbibed perennial threats of nuclear war, subconsciously absorbed the sabre-rattling propaganda engineered to cultivate artificial differences. So as to create an arbitrary division between those members of the human race living west of Berlin and those that lived to its east.
The term ‘Cold War’ had been coined a mere seventeen months after the official end of World War II – thirty-three years prior to my birth. My dad became terrified by the potential for nuclear Armageddon, with the twitchy fingers of world leaders hair-raisingly close to a hair-trigger button capable of annihilating millions of innocents. One of whom was his newborn son. And by fulfilling his biological obligation to reproduce had now also been introduced to a hitherto-unknown dimension of love.
Yet he was powerless to protect against the whims of psychotic politicians. There was a dawn of realisation of him as a disposable pawn thrown down at the feet of capricious mercy, a recognition of the gravity involved in his having to solely rely on the tenacity in his capacity to hope.
The Cold War has morphed into the War on Terror. The battlefront has crept eastwards, but it remains that the tensions lie between east and west. Tensions tightly and ominously loaded with the potential for unthinkable disaster. The USSR may have been dismantled, but allies are easy to rally amongst nations confronted by the actions of imperialistic crusading that craves omnipotence for its ideologies; sovereign countries patronised by capitalist-driven democracies intent on thrusting themselves unsolicited upon cultures with incongruous belief systems constructed over centuries of highly successful self-rule.
So, yeah. Comfort.
Why did the conversation with my father act as a source of solace for me? Because through it I theorised that global tumult was simply a consequence of toothless fearmongering tactics employed to control societies. That though the volatility of world politics was a constant, surely no Government would ever be so recklessly insane as to initiate Mutually Assured Destruction. Indeed, the technological advances made since the end of the Cold War (officially over in 1991) mean the weapons once utilised to terrify that particular generation of humanity can now be considered as relatively endearing in their benignity. When compared to the capability for destruction contained within their contemporaneous counterparts.
Of course, at the time of the conversation, I was as yet unaware of the unique dimension of love that the privilege of parenthood provides. And now that I am a father myself, that theory which once brought me comfort now causes me to cringe in its naivety.
And I feel the powerlessness.
Bestial acts committed by humankind are indefatigably relayed to us via the all-pervasive, all-seeing media. These horrific demonstrations of brutality which the human race uses to shame itself are borne of a dearth of humility – a virtue vital for reaching compromise.
Yet the truth is that we are not animals. We have the capacity for civility. We uniquely wield the ability for thought and imagination. We are bestowed with the power to create and solve. It is our gift as a species. But it also our curse. It is also why we are unique in our capability to exercise premeditated acts of evil. It is also why we destroy and deceive.
The onset of terror that arrived with fatherhood was a huge motivation in my writing The First Book of Michael. The most famous man to have ever lived offered himself to the world in an effort to be adopted as a totem for peace. And in my powerlessness, I decided that trying to promote this notion was the most effective thing that, in my own small way, I could do.
The magnitude to which Michael Jackson became a recipient of adulation was unprecedented. People flocked in their millions to experience his talent and hear his message, regardless of his morphing physicality. A physicality that on sight instantly undermined expectations of gender, race and age. And over thirty years of harmonising crowds comprised of tens of thousands of people all hailing from disparate cultural backgrounds, Michael was uniquely positioned to appreciate the absurdity of perceived differences. He routinely observed how love effortlessly transcends prejudice.
Michael Jackson helped galvanise the fall of the Berlin Wall. Citizens of East Germany bravely defied authority and risked imprisonment just to get as close as they possibly could to Michael’s concert in the West.
To love Michael is to be oblivious to his physical transformation. There is no requirement to justify the cynicism of those that speculate salaciously about and sneer at a special human being who dedicated his life and career to promoting love as a solution to the world’s problems. Michael was just Michael, and the joy, hope and escapism his artistry elicited in those that loved him meant that the puerility of the superficiality expressed by those that didn’t understand was meaningless in its very essence. Future generations will balk, bewildered at the absurdity of the idea that twentieth century American law dictated how a person’s standard of public toilet was determined by a person’s particular skin tone. Similarly, they will also appreciate how Michael was just Michael, his physicality irrelevant.
Michael’s mission was to attempt the laying of foundations for an eventual future incarnation of humanity. One that innately understands the fundamental right of each and every individual to feel comfortable within their own skin. Without fear of prejudice. Because it will no longer exist.
Michael purveyed the idea that this can be achieved through forming a society built upon an absolute reverence for childhood, in the prioritising of providing environmental circumstances tailored to enable the potentiation of the child. Through them possessing the right to make mistakes on their journeys to self-actualisation, content in never having to question whether or not they are loved; to not be forced to live laboured by the shortcomings of their parents. Shortcomings a consequence of the parents themselves having been deprived of the opportunity to fulfil their potential. A bold mission to terminate the cycle of adults having to search for alternative means of filling spiritual vacuums created by an absence of feeling loved as children. To know that being loved is an automatic consequence of living as their true selves.
We can be liberated human beings, we need not acquiesce to the artificiality of authority, to dictats our sense of humanity is innately repulsed by, yet are obeyed as a result of our being manipulated to fear each other.
Of course, Michael’s plan of action to create peace amongst the human race is vulnerable to being dismissed as nothing but naive, unworkable, nebulous idealism – what with Idealism as a concept forever undermined. But Idealism is maligned only by those terrified in their secret awareness of how Damoclean their assumed position of superiority is. Their arrogance is a manifestation of their fragility.
Something they wouldn’t have to worry about in Michael’s world.
Italian translation available here: http://amzn.to/1O85aRV