"Time for Kids" stresses the importance of children, family life, and community, and aims to unite leaders from the business, entertainment, sports, science, political, and literary worlds in taking action on child welfare issues. We are also beginning work on a book focusing on the lessons that we adults may learn from the incorruptibility and openness that is inherent in children and which we hope will be available by the middle of next year. It has been thrilling to work with Michael on these projects. It has rejuvenated my spirit and reminded me just how inspiring meaningful work can be.

Of course, I know that Michael has infuriated and mystified many. People presume his guilt after an allegation of child molestation, although he has never been charged with any wrongdoing. His silence reads to the public as stealth, his genius is often interpreted as eccentricity. I have watched outrageous rumors grow from a tabloid seed to a televised expose, and if I didn't know the immense pain that each of these stories inflict upon Michael, I would have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Days after having watched a television report on Michael's supposed near-paralyzing obsession with germs, he and I sat on the floor with our kids having dinner, playing Native Americans at a "pow-wow" in the teepee village Michael put together with his son. We ate off the floor. Germ neurosis? I don't think so. Michael is simply not what the media reports. I see something different: a man who loves a child's innocence and is himself innocent; a man who loves a child's playfulness and is himself playful.


What does the world hold against Michael Jackson? Perhaps it's his extreme emphasis on the need for adults to learn from children. Indeed, our society has a tendency to use the word "adult" as a synonym for mature and responsible. What is forgotten is that the word can also connote cynical, untrusting, and scheming. As we grow older, the pain of the world around us forces us increasingly to harden our hearts. What Michael's devotion to children is saying is that while we must grow up on the outside, we should forever retain the child at our core. By contrast, many adults don external garments to compensate for internal deficiencies and to conceal their vulnerability.

I am at a loss to explain Michael's special sensitivity to children, with which I was once so poorly endowed. But I recall an old Jewish mystical tradition that says that not all humans were expelled from the Garden together with Adam and Eve. There are still some individuals who remain in Paradise and beckon us all to reenter. Could it be that Michael moon-walked back into Eden?