We know deep inside what the right thing to do is. We pride ourselves on being good people. Perhaps this is the problem.
Somehow, when we see someone who is struggling, suffering, or in any way out of control, we forget that we are all in this together. Our natural wisdom–the potential to care–gives way to fear. We shrink back into our smallest self.
We are afraid to admit that this could be any of us. We turn away and pretend that we don’t notice. We gossip amongst ourselves. We do anything but the right thing, which is to reach out a helping hand.
It was reported that…Anyone who’d followed reports of Whitney Houston’s bizarre behavior in the days leading up to the Grammys had to have been “shocked, but not surprised” at reports of her demise, as the saying goes. Thursday in particular had been an obviously rough day in public for the troubled singer, whose appearance and behavior raised eyebrows among reporters, photographers, and regular folks who witnessed her erratic rounds.
First she first visited Brandy, Monica, and Clive Davis at rehearsals for the mogul’s pre-Grammys party, where a Los Angeles Times reporter described her as reeking of alcohol, “visibly bloated,” and “disheveled in mismatched clothes and hair that was dripping wet with either sweat or water.” According to the Times, when Houston wasn’t mugging and gesticulating wildly for Brandy and Monica—who were doing a media junket, as well as preparing a duet—she was alternately skipping around the lobby or “wandering aimlessly” around the Beverly Hilton Hotel grounds. Reportedly, guests had even called security to report the singer doing handstands by the hotel pool…
That evening, she attended a party headlined by Kelly Price at the Tru nightclub in Hollywood. As she exited, seeming intoxicated, photographers took close-ups of her legs, which appeared to be spotted with blood streaks, along with scratches on her wrists…
Houston’s final public performance happened at the club that night. It lasted just under a minute, as she sang “Jesus Loves Me” with Price in an impromptu, ramshackle duet captured by any number of videographers in the crowd…Whether the singer knew she was the butt of jokes and dire speculation or was oblivious to it in her final hours is unknown.
Someone who shows up intoxicated, disheveled, or in any way wounded begs any of us to act from a place of truth and connection. Rather than judging, disparaging, or laughing at this kind of behavior, we must reach out to offer care and guidance.
Where is the humanity, or even that spark of divinity, which lives in each of us, when we sit back and watch as someone spiral downward? This is a question we must continue to ask ourselves, until we realize what we are here in this world to do.
In Eastern spiritual traditions, we often talk about maintaining equanimity or living from the place of the witness consciousness. What we so often forget is that we discuss philosophy and look within, so that we can roll up our sleeves and serve in whatever way we are called to, wherever there is someone who is suffering.
What are we here to do, if not to love one another?
We offer our deepest prayers for Whitney Houston. Her music continues to touch and inspire many. She was a beautiful person. May her spirit be free.