I never knew I would watch Michael Jackson's memorial.
I am never a fan of his, although I do know some of his songs by heart. Why I can no longer recall. I only start to believe my childhood memory was too good and receptive to everything that comes into sight and hearing.
I watched simply because I didn't feel like sleeping. I knew too well it was bad for health to stay up throughout the night. I knew I was going to suffer without enough and quality sleep. But there was an urge inside me to keep me awake.
Awake until this point of time with only three hours of sleep.
Michael Jackson's memorial was generally warm and peaceful, although there were inevitably some disturbances of flattery and exaggeration. Brooke Shields' emotional retrospect of their friendship was among the best, if not the best of all. Yet I couldn't help being speechless when someone asked online who Brooke Shields is. It just reminds me of how old I am.
Emotions were what gave it warmth. Solemnity was what made it peaceful. For some reasons similar occasions in Chinese contexts are often made into artificial and hypocritical encounters that few of us attend as anything than a ritual, or worse still, a performance. This is also why Elizabeth Taylor's excuse for her absence is perfectly understandable to the Chinese reader. After all, it was but a good show.
I watched the memorial programme calmly and quietly until the intro chores of "We Are the World" were played softly. Making up key words in the lyrics, symbols of the world's leading religions flickered on the screen, squeezing tears from my eyes.
Words can't describe what I feel when I heard the song produced more than 20 years ago. I couldn't help but thinking about the terrifying violence in Xinjiang since Sunday. Footage of victims soaked in blood, angry men clamouring with weapons in their hands, heartbroken Uyghur women asking the authorities to release their sons, brothers and husbands kept replaying in my head. Although the world has improved little over the years since "We Are the World" was first sung, it is even more tragic to see the bloodshed in Urumqi when the United States has finally made the change and elected its first black president in office.
Perhaps change is also one of the most frequently used words of Michael Jackson's. He kept changing the way he looked and performed. He endeavoured to make this world a better place for you and me. Although it requires too much more than any individual's effort to have a visible change to this world, he tried. Of course he was capable of trying, but more importantly, he was also courageous enough. He changed the way he worked by staying true to himself.
But why is it now so difficult to change the way one behaves without changing the true self? Why is it now so hard to convince myself into a special type of schizophrenia when actions and personal will can be disconnected?