The past few days have produced what one co-worker labeled the “trifecta of celebrity deaths.” At the time, Michael Jackson was practicing for his upcoming comeback tour. Said co-worker pondered who the third might be. Ed McMahon passed a couple days ago and then Farrah Fawcett early yesterday. Farrah chronicled her battle with cancer in a rather shocking and honest video diary, clips of which have been shown on the news quite frequently. Then yesterday, starting at 5:15pm, I started seeing news reports via my phone (@cnnbrk) that MJ had a heart attack. Reports that followed said he was in a coma and then that he had died. More reports said he hadn’t died, but then truth finally was confirmed. Michael Jackson was dead at age 50.
I’ve heard a lot of comments over the past days, about how he amazing he his and how awful he was. Regardless of what you think of his actions in life, it is undeniable that he revolutionized music in many ways. Some of the comments along the lines of “good riddance” and such sadden me.. Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t exactly admire the man for the things he died in his personal and public life, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that he was human. He had family, he had loved ones, and in as much as he was a person, his death is a sad event, especially with the question of his eternal state in mind.
Farrah Fawcett has, in my mind, been fairly rudely shoved aside. This women struggled for a while with cancer, yet stayed strong and decided that she would show the struggle involved to the public. It seems that such a remarkable fight and death (which brings to mind qualities of the classic/epic/tragic hero) has been overshadowed and its force lessened.
There was one death that we haven’t heard much about, though. A death that could alter world politics and the course of a nation. A death so tragic and so vivid that I still can’t get the video out of my mind. You’ve probably heard about the election turmoil in Iran- how the sitting president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad basically said “Oh hey guys.. Don’t worry about the election. I won.. really I did, and if you protest, I’ll arrest or shoot you.” Talk about Democracy, right? So this Ahmadinejad guy is a pretty rough guy- calling for the destruction of Israel, denying the occurrence of the holocaust, and flaunting his power via threat of nuclear weapons.
So protests have been illegal in Iran in re: the election, but yet thousands still do. Riot police are called and things tend to get out of hand, but protestors have rallied behind a girl named Neda Agha. Sadly, this girl has been dead since Saturday. Caught in traffic due to the protests, she left her car to get some fresh air and within minutes was struck by a bullet from a government sniper. What happened next was shocking and sad, because someone nearby had a camera and recorded from that point on. The video is available on youtube in several places and, due to it being pretty graphic, I won’t embed it- only link to it here.
The government in Iran has gone so far as to make illegal mourning for this poor girl, as mourning in the Iranian culture actually has vengeance-based retaliation times scheduled in its 40-day cycle. President Obama condemned the actions of the Iranian government and now Ahmadinejad has demanded an apology.
Here we are now, on the brink of something possibly devastating… Will democracy prevail and western relations restored with Iran or will we see tensions with a nuclear power increase? As hard as it is to say it, from a nation-building perspective, this is a good place to be. The people are rising up and the structures are in place for a nation to truly become democratic (in its modern interpretation). A regime change could mean many good things for a country that, frankly, scares me.