This week three celebrities died, Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. They died in that order like Death was doing some celebrity countdown. Each one was a bigger celebrity than the previous. When the week culminated in Jackson’s death, hysteria filled the air and digital waves. Twitter and Facebook spiked with everything from the major networks stories down to the smallest “I remember my first kiss was to a Michael Jackson song” tribute on MySpace.
Do I mourn these people. Sure I do, in a John Donne For Whom the Bell Tolls sort of way, sure. But I didn’t know these people and neither did the 99.9% of the people who pretended their deaths were the end of an era. No matter what fond memories you have of The Tonight Show, Charlie’s Angels, or the Bad album, you didn’t know any of these people. All the internet equivalent of throwing yourself on their caskets does only one thing. It makes me sad…for you.
Over 140,000 other people died today. Their lives were just as important as Michael Jackson’s. They just aren’t in your iPod. Do you mourn their deaths? This year over 300,000 women died in child birth leaving 300,000 motherless children. Many of those same children died of malnutrition or curable diseases before their fifth birthday. In fact, 5.3 million children under five died this year alone. Did you mourn them? Did you even donate to a charity that was trying to prevent their deaths? 22 million abortions were performed this year. Less than 3% were done because the mother was at risk. That’s more than one abortion every 3 seconds. Did you try to help those girls in distress? Did you offer them an alternative? Did you just picket a clinic and make them feel worse about their predicament? More than half a million lonely people committed suicide this year. Did you do anything to reach out to any of them and try to prevent their deaths?
I’d venture to say, someone in your neighborhood had a family member pass away this year. Did you take them food or even send a condolence card? I was expressing these feelings to my sister-in-law this morning. A member of her church died this week. She didn’t know them very well, but she vowed to at least attend and help out with food or the nursery so others could mourn properly. That is how you deal with death. That is real. That is tangible. That is mourning.
Sappy, crappy, faux feelings for someone you never even met because you feel they touched your life doesn’t impress me. It makes me kind of sad. There are people on your street who could change your life in infinitely more meaningful ways than a few entertainers, if you would just let them. When was the last time your even spoke to your neighbor? Do you even know their names? If you got their mail, would you know where to return it without looking at the address?
Do us both a favor. Don’t post another stupid ode to Michael Jackson on your blog unless you meet a neighbor you haven’t met. No more fake feelings on Facebook about Farah until you visit a nursing home or hospice this week. Stop acting like you know these people when you don’t even know the names of the people you work with every day. Make death personal and deal with the people involved face to face. Then you’ll have something of substance to talk or write about.
You can check these and more statistics at the World-o-Meter.