Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Search of...a really long Oprah blog

What a week it was…on Oprah. Yes, part of my weekends are reserved for catching up on my DVR’d programs, and no week would be complete without seeing what’s on this, the farewell season of Oprah.

She’s really delivered in ways both profound and enjoyable. Whether it’s been catching up with my teen idols or contemplating plastic surgery and thinking better of it after seeing the celebrity results, I have been totally reeled in.

This week saw the Jackson family, a former President, former talk show hosts, Marie Osmond, and a whole lotta sexual abuse victims. Yes, my friends, Oprah has taken us on an emotional roller coaster ride to be sure.

The interview with the Jackson parents was more than slightly disturbing to me. The mom, clearly a victim herself, was grieving the loss of a son that the world mourns as well. But she neither protected that son from his father or from a parasitic world. And yes, she seemed sweet, and sad, and vulnerable. But she is alive, and her son is not, and no matter how I want to wrap my brain around the fact that Michael was an adult who made his own choices and was responsible for his own demise, I can’t help but believe that the childhood that preceded that chronological adulthood left him scarred and damaged in a way that was irreparable.

This brings me to the father, Joe Jackson, a man who radiates meanness even through a television screen. I’ve got to hand it to Oprah for going for the jugular and saying what we’ve all been thinking. And what was Joe Jackson’s response when asked if he felt remorse for beating the crap out of his kids? They didn’t end up in jail, and they’re good people, so he was justified. I’d argue that one of them ended up on drugs and is dead because he was in so much pain. But I guess by Joe’s standards dead is better than in jail. What a sick, sick man. And by the way, who is to say that his children wouldn’t have turned out just as good, if not better, without being beaten to a pulp. So I’m praying for the sake of all the children who are currently living in that Jackson house, that Joe is kept far, far away from them.

This brings me to Michael’s children. Okay, I think if you want to know who the real Michael Jackson was, then take a good look at his kids. They seem well adjusted, loving, well spoken, self aware, kind, compassionate, and most surprising of all – normal. I think for all the crazy we witnessed with Michael Jackson, the veils, the monkeys, the merry-go-rounds, the pajamas to court – who his kids are speaks volumes beyond the images we each hold in our heads of the oddities. Behind a persona that we could never quite get a grasp of, was a man with qualities that weren’t apparent to the public. I hope that wherever his spirit is residing, he is taking some measure of pride in the results of the work he did that we didn’t see, the important work of raising good human beings, because that, my friends, is the only way that we are truly going to “heal the world.”

As for the show with the former talk show hosts, it was like sitting down for tea with some long lost friends that you haven’t seen in years. It was a chance to say, “So what have you been up to?” And none of them really disappointed. I found it affirming to see visible growth and transformation in people. It reignited my faith that we all can change, and grow, and transform for the better. And that was very uplifting. I mean, if Geraldo can be faithful to his fourth wife, isn’t there hope for humanity?

Marie Osmond – how many Kleenex did we all use for this show? I was crying right along with her, and Oprah, and the audience. Let me start off by saying that I’m biased. I’ve always loved Marie since I was a child. Like millions of other people, I grew up with the Osmonds, and that kind of affection doesn’t just go away. So to see and feel her very grown up, unfathomable pain, well let’s just say that it is shared by everyone who grew up loving the Osmonds. And for those of you who are reading this blog that do not know what happened, Marie's eighteen year old son committed suicide.

I think her appearance was brave. I think she is a woman who is so completely authentic, and open, and available to both the beauty and horror of life, that she inspires me to be the same. And that is a gift. It is said that the only way we teach is by example, and if that be the case, then Marie Osmond is a great teacher of how to live, and learn, and evolve in all the ways that truly matter.

When asked about the tabloid rumors that her ex-husband was abusive, she thought for what seemed like a long time before answering. That pause alone made me like her. It didn’t feel like she was being calculating about how she would answer. It felt like she had the feelings of others like her children to consider, which outweighed what may or may not have been the awful truth. And the truth is that people come into our lives at the level of our own self esteem, according to Marie. I have pondered that fact on more than one occasion in my own life, and I can tell you that it’s absolutely true, and profound, and better learned sooner than later. To the degree that we value ourselves is the degree to which we will pick someone who values us. This is a hard lesson to be learned by women, but it is at the core of how our lives turn out in every respect. So kudos to Marie Osmond. I wish her comfort for her grief and peace in her heart.

Lastly, and most shockingly, I’d like to talk about the interview with George W. Bush, a President whom I have both loathed and mocked, a man whom I have blamed for things that have both been and not been his fault, but for which he bore the responsibility because he took the oath of office.

This interview shocked me, and I’ll tell you why. For the first time ever, I found him to be both likeable and a feeling person. I know, they must make a pill for that, and don’t get me wrong, he still ruined the country in ways both big and small, but there are things he said philosophically that I agreed with. Of course, had he directed those philosophies in a constructive way, we most likely would not be in two wars, despised by much of the world, in the crapper economically, and with catastrophic environmental results that have increased exponentially. So there you go.

Still and yet, Mr. Bush was not immune to what’s been said and thought of him, and he showed remarkable good humor about it. For instance, he talked about being recognized on the street.

Man on street: Did anyone ever tell you you look like George W. Bush?

GWB: Yeah, it happens all the time.

Man on street: Sho’ must make you mad.

And so he knows that not everyone likes him. He also knows that some of us have openly questioned whether he could read a book, let alone write one. I have to admit that I, being one of those people, felt a little sheepish when he said that…although, if he truly wanted to put that concern to rest, he could pull out a copy of, say, the Constitution and read a little of it for the class. Then those nasty rumors would be gone once and for all, and he might have a reminder of what parts of it he ignored and/or destroyed during his tenure. But I digress.

Here’s what I liked that he said. He said he has zero desire to criticize his successor. Well, God Bless. He also said he believes you ought to treat people the way you’d like to be treated yourself. The Golden Rule. I’m on board with that. So my question to him is this: Which country does he think should come in here, pillage our resources and overthrow our government? Because that’s what we did to other countries. And we’re continuing to do so. I’ve got a great idea to recoup that deficit money. Pull the troops out of the damn wars. Bring ‘em home. Save lives. Save money. Cut military spending. If you want to invest in military, train special ops people to infiltrate the training camps and sleeper cells. Come on, you know I’m right. Spend less money more wisely.

Mr. Bush said he wants our president to succeed. He loves our country. And since he is the only Republican to go out there and say that, I retract everything mean but true that I just said about him. That’s right, folks. You heard me. Our Republican former President just said he wants Barack Obama to succeed. That didn’t come from Dick Cheney, or Karl Rove, or Sarah Palin, or John Boehner, or Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck. It came from George W. Bush. And for that, he just showed a redeeming quality that no one else on either side has shown. Good for him. He’s making it harder and harder for me to hang on to my outrage (although not impossible).

Last but not least, he talked about living by a set of principles that is inviolate. Now here’s the sad part of that. I agree that it is the noble and right thing to do to have a set of principles that you live by despite the changing tides of public opinion, politics, and popularity. I agree with that. But what set of principles did he have that allowed him to let his corporate friends profit at the expense of the welfare of the American people? What set of principles was it that allowed him to ignore intelligence warnings prior to September 11th, and what principles allowed him to let the people of New Orleans suffer like they did without sending help and restoring order for its citizens immediately? I just don’t understand what those principles were. And so, though I really want to let bygones be bygones, and forgive the man who thinks he’s done nothing wrong and apologizes to us for nothing, I find the arrogance that makes him unapologetic reprehensible. Each and every day we live with the fallout of eight years that began peacefully, prosperously, and maybe a little too innocently. Those days are gone. We are living in a world devoid of innocence and prosperity and peace. And maybe some of it can be reclaimed. And maybe some of it shouldn’t be. All we can do is move forward now. And maybe that was the lesson in all of this week’s Oprah shows. Move forward, evolve, transform, and share that gift with a world that needs it.

Thanks for stopping by and indulging me. Please tell your friends.

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