I want to share some reflections on Whitney Houston’s death.
Rarely am I interested in celebrities or their lives. This is not much of an exception. However, I was in the U.S. when Whitney Houston died and naturally, heard a tremendous amount of news coverage. More than I would likely have heard in Canada. So her death has been very much in the forefront of my mind which to me is an indicator that there is some meaning to be discovered in processing this through.
First off, her death is a tragedy. A tragedy the same as any death. No more, no less. Certainly no more than the thousands of un-named, un-known people who died on the same day in the same, or more painful and unjust circumstances. My heart goes out to all families of all people who died that or any other day. Someone is hurt and crying over the losses. My heart goes out to them the most.
I saw the news story recently about the cause of death still being pending. Understandable. It is a high-profile incident with huge legal and publicity implications. Of course those involved are going to be careful to be able to back up everything they conclude or say.
A sad fact is that this is even necessary. Or that it is necessary for a celebrity, but not for the others. That legal and medical professionals need to be more vigilant for a celebrity death than a non-celebrity death. I understand why, but it is still sad.
The common practice of Talent Worship comes to mind. I contrast this with Character Worship. Frankly neither should be worshipped but I am sure you understand my point. We, the consuming public, send a message to our entertainment figures that we value your talent more than your character. We show you by our spending habits that we pretty much only care about your talent. Your characters mean very little. We will overlook who you are, how you treat people, and what kind of example you are to society, including our youth, in order to hear you sing, watch you perform, act, play, or what have you.
We will let you destroy your life, and harm those around you, as long as you give us what we want. Then, when you finally self-destruct, we will worship your legend, once again ignoring the fact that you exemplified danger and how to live a self-consumed life.
Tragically, Whitney Houston once sang the lyrics that make up the title of my post. The more complete lyrics are, “I believe that children are our future… teach them well, let them lead the way”. I am not standing here judging and shouting ‘hypocrite’! I am standing here noticing the sad irony of the lyrics, the lifestyle, and the end. Who am I to judge? An ex-alcoholic and addict? If anything, I am grateful that my drugs and booze behaviour ended prior to death. And sad that Whitney’s and other’s didn’t.
Why, I wonder, don’t celebrities and the wealthy seem to “get it” as often as many of the rest of us? Could it be because they don’t have to? Does their wealth and fame let them continue by buffering them from consequences that others of us come to more quickly? Could it be that we, the consuming public, don’t care if they get it or not, as long as they keep feeding us talent to worship?
Obviously I am generalizing here. I suppose it asks the question of why some who seemingly have ‘everything’ come to early and tragic ends when they seemingly have opportunities otherwise.
It is times like these that I look at the losses in my life with gratitude. The losses were significant enough to get my attention. So who is in a better position? The ‘privileged’, or those of us with less?
To be blunt, and I truly hope this does not sound arrogant, insensitive, or judgemental, at approximately the same age as Whitney Houston, would those of us who are clean, sober, and still alive… would we not then actually be the recipients of the more ‘privileged’ lives?
Is this not what we hope to teach our children to help build a better future?
My head is swimming in these issues. And the last thing I want to sound like is judgemental. I suppose I am shocked and rattled. Maybe this is my mind telling me to just be grateful for each day and for all that has happened to bring me to a recovering life.
Your thoughts and reflections would be most welcome.