(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
The year was 1993. It was Super Bowl XXVII in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. And the halftime show was the first time the whole show featured one performer, Michael Jackson. It was an extraordinary 12 minutes featuring “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” “We are the World,” and “Heal the World.” During the first number, the center platform was flanked by two huge banners unfolding on the field depicting two hands shaking — one black and one white. During the second, everyone in the stadium became participants by holding up colored boards that had been placed under their seats and as Michael Jackson pointed a “magic wand” at the crowd, people, on his cue, held up their cards revealing pictures of children encircling the stadium holding hands. And for the last number, “Heal the World,” 3,200 children from 67 agencies representing 5 regions of Los Angeles — children who had been chosen because they had overcome some barrier in order to excel — streamed onto the field and surrounded the stage as a huge globe of the world was inflated behind them. It was an incredible moment, held together by Michael’s gentle, childlike voice singing, “Heal the world make it a better place,” and I cry every time I see it.
What’s amazing about the story was that six months prior, L.A. was burning, businesses were looted, people were rioting in the streets and large corporations were threatening to leave town, all over the Rodney King incident and the acquittal of white police officers who had beaten him to near death. But this halftime show celebrated a solidarity that in many ways healed the city.
But what you don’t know is that Marti Fischer, my wife and this ministry’s CEO, was instrumental in bringing this show together. Earlier in the year she had raised $60 million for public television station KCET and $21.5 million for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. All this had put her in the inner circle of civic leaders and major corporations in town who she persuaded to bring this all about.
She was on the private corporate jet that flew to Phoenix with the mayor and other leaders to meet with the NFL and persuade them to change the venue for the Super Bowl to Pasadena. She used her influence in choosing Michael Jackson for the halftime show, bringing in the New York Radio City Rockettes production team to produce the show (they had the best ideas), and she thought up the 3,200 kids idea, and called on her new friends in L.A. leadership to make this all happen. It was all based on relationships. They trust her because she creates platforms for them, and it all flows seamlessly, almost magically. In fact, this is when she earned the name, “Princess of Power and Control,” a title that stuck.
Click here to see what one person can orchestrate when everybody is happy to participate. It still stands today as one of the most outstanding Super Bowl halftime shows ever. And an incredible illustration of what can happen when people of influence are valued and appreciated.
Today, we stand together all around the world joined in a common purpose to remake the planet into a haven of joy and understanding and goodness. No one should have to suffer, especially our children. This time we must succeed. This is for the children of the world. – Michael Jackson
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
from the song “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson