Did you ever hear the song: Man in the Mirror, sung by Michael Jackson? One of the lyrics is: “If you want to make the world a better place, then take look in the world and make a change. What, if anything does this phrase mean?
Perhaps Michael Jackson or whoever was the actual composer of the song lyrics for this ditty was trying to teach the world a philosophical truth. Whatever we see, hear, feel, think and experience in the world is somehow a reflection of oneself, albeit on a magnified scale.
To take another example, to demonstrate this point, let us consider the movie The Fifth Element. Near the beginning of the film the army or space army encounters some giant blob and is warned, by a spiritual leader Priest Vito Cornelius, to not attempt to destroy it: Because it is evil, absolutely evil.” What lesson can we draw from this eternal wisdom? Does this advice instruct us not to combat evil when we encounter it in the world?
We cannot, as a civilized society, allow evil to run rampant without restraint. According to the Introduction of John Stuart Mill’s treatise On Liberty: “All that makes existence valuable to any one, depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people.” Based on this claim, everyone else can be said to free and permitted to live a valuable life due to the restrictions of the behaviors of some persons in the same society. Not everyone can be equally free to do as they wish, without infringing on the rights of others who aspire to life a full life without impediment. “Viktor Frankl once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”
Let us return to our initial claim, whereby to improve the world, one must likewise first improve oneself. One must vanquish the evil within oneself to remove any trace element of this evil from the world. The world is after all not only the location of many places, but is also place. To ensure the removal of evil everyone must strive conversely to instead be good. One must not speak, act or think evil of others and most importantly not believe such of oneself.
One must restrain oneself from being evil, in anyway, whether through thought speech or action. This endeavor will improve the state of the world and remove any trace elements of evil. If there is no evil within anyone, then perhaps there will not be any evil to affect everyone. Let us set the goal of speaking, thinking and acting positively. It is a challenging task to complete fully, due to life’s pressures. But we can certainly achieve this feat temporarily. Perhaps a temporary suspension of evil within each person can be enough to tip the scales for the ultimate eternal good in the world!