♫ ♪♬♩♫ There's A Place In Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow
♫ ♪♬♩♫

♫ ♪♬♩♫  And If You Really Try
You'll Find There's No Need
To Cry
In This Place You'll Feel
There's No Hurt Or Sorrow
♫ ♪♬♩♫

♫ ♪♬♩♫ There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place...
♫ ♪♬♩♫

In the above lyrics of the song, Heal the World, that place in our hearts which the song urges us to seek is one that has the power to widen our individual perspectives to include the well-being of the whole world and future generations through each of our thoughts and actions. It is a place that each and every one of us has individual and sole control of.

Heal the World is a song from Michael Jackson’s hit album, Dangerous, which was released in 1991. It speaks of peace and compels each and every individual to contribute their quota in order to change the world for the better; a change that marshals in a renewed dedication to widespread moral values, which puts an end to disagreements peacefully, through discourse instead of violence; a change that upholds human dignity and human responsibility and promotes empathy and kindness.

Of all his songs, Michael Jackson, in past interviews, spoke of “Heal the World” as the song that he was most proud to have written. As I recall the message of love and peace that he gave through his music and the stories of unity, understanding and patience that he spoke of in his work, I am comforted by the fact that the loss of Michael is one that will never be forgotten.

Five years on since that dreadful day of June 25th, 2009 when the world woke to the shocking news that the King of Pop had passed away, the sadness that those of us, who adored Michael and appreciated his philanthropy, music and message, feel is still there.

Every year, since his death, on the anniversary of his loss, I have written a tribute to Michael. This year, amidst all the turmoil and conflict that is raging all over the world, I felt it would be fitting to reflect on the message of peace that Michael was so desperate to spread in his most cherished creation, Heal the world. For it is a message that the world is presently so much in need of.

In some of his past interviews, Michael referred to the song as being about man's inhumanity to his fellow man, a development that we are all too aware of as we watch in disbelief as human beings maim, slaughter, rape, massacre, abduct, bomb and commit the most horrific crimes against other fellow human beings. All the horrors that are presently taking place world-wide are avoidable if we each take the responsibility upon ourselves and embrace the message of peace and change or heal the world from what it has, so unfortunately, become today.

As people, when we focus on our own mortality and the mortality of those nearest and dearest to us, we find that there are much more important things in life than politics or government, money or material possessions, desire and ambition, there is right and wrong, good and bad, salvation and humanity, life and death.

When each of us was born, we each came with the traits necessary for man’s being and our very survival. We each were naturally provided with the ability to be kind, to nurture and care for each other. Obviously, while, not everybody in human creation has been given these qualities in equal measures, the fact still remains that every human being created has the capacity to possess such positive qualities and has the ability to reject the negative qualities within. I do not believe that any one was born evil but I do believe that people can be evil-prone and can learn to be evil. However, I also believe that everybody has the capacity to overcome evil. It is those innate qualities and abilities within each of us that have to be tapped in order for us to heal the world and give humanity a chance for peace.

If each of us strived to maintain and develop positive qualities and advance the very basic human values we each have, our differences of religious faith, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and literacy, economic divide or any other differences would be of no negative consequence. If we all embraced the concept of ‘live and let live,’ we would all be individually comforted in the reality of our choosing. If we, as human beings, each concentrate on encouraging good human relations between our different identities, we have the power to heal this world and give peace a chance. All the turmoil that is playing out all over the world is created, orchestrated and developed with us and it is only from within that we can stop the world from the terrific kind of bleeding we are witnessing.

Often times it is much easier for us to push the responsibilities of working for peace on our leaders, but in reality, the duty lies with each and every one of us. For peace to have a chance in this world, the search for peace must start when each one of us embraces a sincere effort to take responsibility for each other. When we are kind to others, it is natural for us to develop inner peace. When we search for peace and practice peace, it is inevitable that we will be at peace with ourselves and with those around us. And if within our communities, we live in a state of peace with each other, the communities next to us will benefit from that peace. It is the very circle of life which links the human family together and once that link has a weakness, the circle is invariably broken.

While it may be the norm for Michael’s message of peace to be seen as unrealistic, almost as if he speaks of some kind of utopia found only in Children’s bed time stories. But the appeal for global peace and world healing is not an entirely unrealistic one, it is an essential one. If one really thinks of some of these messages of peace, they are not really all that farfetched. In ‘Heal the World,’ Michael merely appealed for people to show love, care and need to the children who are suffering and people who are victims of wars and poverty. Just those steps of loving and caring for children and people in need are some of the vital steps towards world peace and healing.

When any of us are facing challenges in our lives, it is natural for us to regularly look towards others for assistance and support. They could be people we know or they may be strangers; they may be people who we share identity with or people with whom we share no identity. There is not one person in this world that has not had to unconditionally rely on another for help. When circumstances arise where we have had to seek assistance from someone else, we do not stop to know who people are before we ask for help. And in the instances where we each have helped others, we do not ask their identity before we offer them help. We each have helped others because they are human beings like us and others have helped us for exactly the same reason.

As human beings with a stake in this world and a stake in preserving this world in a state where our children and generations after them can live in peace, a universal principle of humanity must take precedence. There is no community in this world that can survive as an island. The world has become such a global village that none of us can afford to be concerned only for our communities, families or countries. As part of the human family, regardless of tribe, race, religion, gender and different sections of society, we must all be involved with the survival of one another and feel a responsibility for all individuals, communities and peoples. We must have compassion for those in this world who suffer and for each other.

It is so heartbreaking and devastating to watch the madness going on in the world where man’s wickedness against man is seen in the form of the daily senseless bloodletting. Headlines of families being slaughtered, populations being bombed, and communities being massacred are just too unbelievable for the human senses. From the perspective of the oneness of humanity, and from a deep understanding of the acutely interconnected nature of today's world, none of us should view the atrocities taking place in the world in isolation. Ultimately their ramifications are going to have an effect all around the world. Many of us who used to see these events so far from us have come to experience it so close to home. We in Nigeria can attest to that!

That place in our heart that the song, Heal the World, urged us to seek is the place where compassion lives. We must have compassion in our choice of goals, compassionate in our means of cooperation and our pursuit of these goals as individuals and in communities. Whether it is through dialogue, forgiveness or a readiness to think and treat ourselves with humanity can give us a possible resolution for world peace.

Michael Jackson was a man who loved peace and he used his talent to teach people how to help others. At the time he created the song, ‘Heal the World’ while sitting on a tree at his beloved home, ‘Neverland Ranch,’ and when he opened the Heal the World Foundation, a charitable organization which was designed to improve the lives of children, his immediate intention was to improve the lives of people. Five years after his death, his message of peace conveyed through his art lives on. ‘Heal the World’ and the way he performed it will always be an inspiring message in the search for peace.

As we mark the anniversary of his passing, I will let the words of Michael in ‘Heal the World’ speak for themselves and the message of peace that he preached when he sang:

♫ ♪♬♩♫ … “Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me..”
…♫ ♪♬♩♫

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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