MAN IN THE MIRROR
Today, Tuesday, the 25th June 2013, the world witnesses the fourth year anniversary of the death of the greatest, most successful and influential entertainer of all time. This time four years ago when news broke that Mich...ael Jackson had passed away after suffering from a cardiac arrest, an unprecedented outpouring of grief barraged every corner of the globe. Four years on since that tragic day, his life, achievements and legacies has been the subject of much focus. Apart from his achievements as a great father and philanthropist, Michael left behind the sound of great music. With his intrinsically spectacular story and sensational genius, he taught people what real music was and spread the message of love patience and peace through his work.
In my annual tribute to the King of Pop, I would like to consider one of the most powerful and beautiful messages he left in that work. In the song, Man in the Mirror, Michael advises each of us to make an individual change if we want to make the world a better place. In the lyrics of the song, Michael sings:
“I'M STARTING WITH THE MAN IN THE MIRROR,
I'M ASKING HIM TO CHANGE HIS WAYS
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.”
This song is indeed about suffering and the cruelty of life, but it goes way deeper than that by saying that the only way we can change the world is by changing ourselves. Essentially, the message that each and every individual has the responsibility of changing themselves in the interest of the greater good is one that would benefit any society. In societies such as ours in Nigeria, the scepter of individual and petty interest has totally infiltrated and completely submerged our way of life and our mindset, invariably characterizing the crux of our tribulations.
As we toil from day to day, wobble through this uncertain democracy and union, Nigeria’s future continues to loom on the precipice as a result of the fact that the majority of our people do not give priority to the highest interest of the nation over their own. But what is even worse than our vice of self-serving interest is the transferred aggression we harbor and lurch at each other.
With so much finger pointing and vilification being hurled across to each other on just about everything in Nigeria, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: No one wants to accept responsibility for the state that we, as Nigerians, are in or the pains that we go through daily as a nation. Whether it’s about sectarian violence, ineptitude, marginalization, extremism, crime, bad leadership or Nigeria’s tattered international image as a scamming and 419 hub, no one wants to take responsibility or admit that each and every one of us has contributed to the state that we find ourselves.
In essence, everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else. No one wants to declare: the buck stops here. No one seems ready to imbibe the message given in Man in the Mirror, which also happens to be the same as the advice of inspiration that was so eloquently quoted by Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “be the change we want to see in the world.”
When I first came across this great quote by Mahatma Gandhi, I knew it held a great deep meaning but I don’t think I fully grasped the real meaning behind it. But over time, I have come to appreciate that, whether through outlook or behavior, it is important for us to change ourselves first before we can expect and see the change we want to see in the world. If we desire non-violence, peace, love and unity, then we ourselves have to reject violence, and embrace peace, love and unity. Putting enormous stakes on the notion of personal responsibility and by extension using that self-responsibility to change ourselves in the interest of our nation is, if I’m not mistaken, one of the things we desperately need in this country.
Whatever change we want to see in our motherland, instead of laying blame on everybody else’s doorstep, first we have to be that change ourselves before we can expect others to be. Each and every one of us has a role to play in that respect. And if each and every one of us imbibes this, we will have a totally reinvigorated society.
There is no reason why the advice given by Mahatma Ghandi or the message in a song like the Man in the Mirror should not be a starting point for all Nigerians to scrutinize their different options and the responsibilities we each have in building a change into a nation that is very much in need of change. If, as a society, we were more sympathetic to others around us and the future generations to come after us, a positive change will occur in the interest of the greater good.
Michael Jackson was my favorite singer. His inspirational songs and strong lyrics are still very powerful and he is still greatly missed. As I analyze some of the greatest songs that MJ has bequeathed to us, I see the instinctive kindness of being the person he was. He cared for people and yearned to be the catalyst to initiate change in the world. He was willing to look through the mirror and be an instrument for recreating positive changes.
One wishes the people in this country, especially our leaders and politicians would imbibe such perspective. If Nigerian politicians make themselves the motivators of change and stopped presenting scenarios that tend to be in their benefit as opposed to that of the nation as a whole, they would have given this country the greatest gift of all; The gift of positive change.
Without a doubt, realizing the true meaning of and embracing the message in the Man in the Mirror is highly liberating and a vital concept for Nigerians to adopt. It is a fair evaluation of simply getting young and old Nigerians to look at the possible things we can each offer in making Nigeria a better place. At this stage, it should not really matter whose turn it is to rule Nigeria or what the gentleman’s agreement the ruling party put in place a decade ago says. What does matter to the vast majority of us is the sincerity of ‘we’ the people and our desire to help make this country better. As long as all the rhetoric and political negotiations taking place at present comes with a proviso that suggests the advocates are purely working towards their personal gains in the 2015 elections and the cabinet that will be constituted thereafter, then Nigeria will forever remain in the doldrums that it is in now. If we want this country to be a better place than it is at present, then, in the great words of Michael, we have to; “TAKE A LOOK AT OURSELVES AND MAKE A CHANGE.”
Written By Hannatu Musawa
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