Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Man in the Mirror

Today’s post is inspired by the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror”. It’s a song with a catchy refrain that I have often hummed to myself when it was at the height of its popularity. But like many songs, how often did I listen to the lyrics - I mean, REALLY listen?

The song refers to the plight of people living on the streets and our reaction to it:

I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs

But the song is one of redemption. If you want to really initiate change in the world around you, then you have to start with yourself:

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change

It tells us that in order to effect real change we often have to start with ourselves. But the words that really rang true for me this past week were the following ones:

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize That There Are Some With No Home,
Not A Nickel To Loan, Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not Alone?

We live, undoubtedly, in times of austerity. More people are out of work; those in work mainly taking home fewer euros. I’ve seen the effect on myself. Fewer pennies getting dropped in the paper cup of the homeless person. Standing orders to charity organisations cancelled or not renewed. The fact that this is a scenario repeated up and down the country came home to me last week when a young representative from Barnados called to my door. I was about to tell him what I told countless charity cold callers over the past few years – no spare euro here. But he managed to get his story told. Due to reduced government funding and charitable contributions, they were faced with closing a number of their centres around the country. They had begun an initiative to try to save at least one of these, in Arklow.

Then it came home to me. These organisations trying to help people in need are struggling, just as much as households across the land. I momentarily reflected how much, despite austerity, I manage to spend on coffee each week and I loosened the purse strings a little. My few euro alone will not make much difference, but a collective change in outlook just might.

To broaden the context a little, how many of us see things that could be or need to be different. We can opt to be passive and assume that others will bring about the change we want to see. Or we can recognise that if something is not as it should be or as we want it to be, often the only way to change it is to take action ourselves.

The scary thing is that often, this requires us to first change the person in the mirror – ourselves. Perhaps it is no wonder there is so much inertia.

* The photo above was taken last September for a self-portrait challenge. I decided to do something a little different with the shot and use a bit of 'photoshopping'. The main reason I've used the shot for this post is that it is a picture of my reflection in a mirror!

Listen the song with lyrics here: Man In The Mirror

1 comment:

  1. Great image and great post John.
    Lots to think about