I’ve always thought of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror’ song as his most brilliant work. Granted, I’m not much of a Jackson fan. It’s the message of the song that I love. When we think about changing the world, we usually view everyone else as the problem, the needy, the broken. Jackson goes to the heart of the issue.
MAN IN THE MIRROR
I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .
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
(If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change
In theory this song has the answer to all of life’s problems. If absolutely everyone woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and started there, this world would suddenly be a beautiful place with no war, no hatred, no anger, and no unkindness. In reality this will never be. In fact, as hard as we try, there are days when the man or woman in the mirror is our biggest problem, our worst enemy. One glance is all we need: we are simply no match for the challenge, let alone tackling the rest of the world.
The truth is that in spite of my best intentions, if I rely on myself to change the woman in the mirror, I will fail. Too many of us spend far too much time and energy trying. We rise. We succeed. We fall. We rise. We succeed. We fall. And that is how the cycle of failure and defeat goes. When we rise and succeed, we feel good about ourselves. We have hope. We have purpose. But when we fall, we surrender to defeat, to feeling useless and to a sense of utter hopelessness.
What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if we acknowledged that we’re no match for our opponent in the mirror? We could find someone else to step into the match and help us change that person. What if we could change the man or woman in the mirror by learning to love who we see? Only then will we start to believe that change is possible.
Like Mother Theresa we will change the world through love if we do it one person at a time, starting with ourselves. When we stop viewing ourselves as the enemy and invite Jesus into our experience something changes. He loves us in our humanity. (While we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for our sins. That is love.) As we spend time with Him and experience His love for us, we see ourselves in a new light. And as our perception of that person in the mirror changes, so does our perception of the world around us.