(Before I begin, some of you have noticed that I am rather scarce of late. All of my free and semi-free time is presently being taken up with work
on my latest project(s). I am writing this during one of the rare times when I am forced to take a break from calculations and construction, thanks to
that terminal disease called 'Old Age' . So if I suddenly disappear again while this thread is ongoing, please understand.
Sometimes the most pungent messages come from the most unlikely sources. One of those pungent messages hit me a couple of days ago when I heard about
the untimely passing of Michael Jackson. Some of you may be surprised to discover that I considered the man, while troubled and obviously not someone
with whom I have much in common, a great performer, a fantastic songwriter, and a legendary talent all around. My music video folder has a copy of
"Thriller" in it that I frequently watch.
As I watched a few minutes of the news coverage, a clip from one of his performances stuck in my head. The song was one I had never paid much
attention to: "Man In The Mirror
". I recant the lyrics to the chorus here:
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
In a world where hatred is flourishing between peoples and communities based on no more than political ideology, in a world where some would gladly
take up arms to fight a cause for no more reason than they have heard it so much they believe it, in a world where government is no longer used as a
protection of liberty but rather as a tool to force others to conform to selfish perceptions of individual morality, these words ring true. Change
Each of us is given a life. That gift can be seen as from Jehovah, Allah, Gaia, Nature, or some universal accident; the source is irrelevant. We are
here, and each of us is trying to survive and thrive in the best way we know how. To demand conformance and action based on one's individual ideals
from others, whether it be through peer pressure, legal interpretation, legislation, financial pressure, or any other means is wrong and ultimately
self-defeating in scope. You, and you alone, are responsible for living your life the best way you can. It is a contest, and just as in any contest,
some will fare better than others. A good sport will be one who, if he loses, will still smile and congratulate the winners. A good sport is the one
who, when he wins, does not gloat or demand that others are inferior to him because of his victory. A bad sport will do the opposite, and that is what
I see in today's society in general, and today, still on ATS.
This philosophy can be applied equally well to soooooo many issues that are discussed here: Prop 8, smoking rights, health care, taxation, and the
list just goes on. Ironically, many of those individuals who admired Mr. Jackson will be those same individuals who will then ignore the man (or
woman) in their mirror and instead try to force others to change their behaviors to aid their personal causes. Such a pity that these individuals of
whom I speak cannot honor the man in such a way as he wold wish to be hoored, but instead would try to claim to do so by their own selfish means.
So, for the sake of the legend who is being laid to rest as we type, I implore you to simply stop for a moment the next time you catch yourself
fighting for a cause. Stop, take two steps back, and look in that mirror. I bet the person you see in there will have plenty they can do by themselves
to help your cause. And I bet they will be the easiest person you ever find to convince to help your cause. I also bet they will be the most efficient
contributor to your cause once you convince them to help.
And just maybe, you will discover that they will be the only person you have to convince to do so.