Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror is one of my favourite social justice songs of all time.
The sentiments expressed in the song centre on a man's journey (could be Michael's), going about his day noticing situations, scenarios in his everyday life, things that we most likely ignore and don't stop to take a look at, recognise and ultimately do nothing about. I imagine that the man in the song has come to a realisation that he is at the point in his life where he needs to make a change that is significant, has purpose and meaning and will be of benefit to others, more than himself:
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
As I turned up the collar on, my favourite winter coat
This wind is blowin' my mind
I see the kids in the streets, with not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs
I've just returned from a conference in Taranaki (also known as Ngāmotu or New Plymouth) that focused on connecting Māori and Pasifika adult community education groups in Aotearoa. The conference is organised by ACE Aotearoa. ACE stands for adult community education. In Aotearoa, adult community education centres fall into the tertiary sector. If I think about the lyrics in this song and marrying this with the experiences I had attending the conference and listening to, being engaged in and preaching the gospel of what success looks like - no message could be any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.
In order to do good for others, establishing whakawhānaungatanga (the Māori concept of building relationships/connections with people in order to understand them) can only be done when you are open to listening to what other people share in conversations, by questioning anything shared for clarification or to deepen understanding of someone else (not to compare so that you think you are better than them, but for compassion's sake). There are times when we become so self-absorbed, self-obsessed that we lose sight of what we are meant to be doing to contribute to a more positive human experience in whatever we do.
I've been a victim of, a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realized
That there are some with no homes, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?
So the question remains, rather than always pointing out flaws in people and scenes in your lives, ask yourself what you can do to make that change.
That's why I'm starting with me . . .