Posts Tagged ‘Man in the Mirror’

Today’s family breakfast at Zane’s school ended with twenty some odd 2nd- and 3rd-graders singing Michael Jackson’s  Man in the Mirror.

“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”

The tears really kicked in when all those kids started to sing. Even though  a lot of the time I struggle between feeling foolish for trying to implement eco-conscious restrictions on our buying habits, hearing all those little voices singing strengthened my resolve.
The teacher asked the kids what the song was about they said, “Being good to the earth.”and “Stopping the oil spill.” and “Being good to people.” The words of course were right on.  People clearly want to do the right thing. But as I looked around the room at the piles of garbage, I couldn’t help but worry.

I baked a dozen blueberry corn muffins to bring to the morning feas
t. Since I’ve purged myself of a lot of my plastic containers, I ended up packing them in a white basket lined with a red cloth napkin which actually looked very pretty. When Zane carried it, he said, half jokingly and half proud:
“Look. I’m Little Red Riding Hood.”
A lot of times, my home-baked goods get passed by — the kids are bedazzled by the Dunkin’ Donuts, the store-bought bagels and muffins which, this time, were festively bright and yellow. I helped a harried mom wearing a nurse’s  scrubs unpack plastic box after plastic box of these gleaming muffins. The dozen  left us with three big packs of plastic. She, like me, wants to be a good mom and make her kids proud. I saw the worry in her eyes:  What time was it? Would she be late for work? How soon could she duck out without  her daughter feeling neglected.  I knew what she was thinking — I was thinking the same thing.
Her daughter , a lovely little blond second grader seemed completely unaware. She proudly told me:”We brought the mini-muffins.”

“I know,” I told her admiringly, “they look delicious.”

Sometimes it’s all too clear that there’s a big gap between knowing what’s eco-friendly to living it
. Sure, everybody believe what Michael Jackson sang about, everybody wants to the right thing, We want to look in the mirror, but half the time we don’t know what we’re looking for. The other half of the time we don’t have the emotional energy or the financial where-with-all to make the most eco-friendly choices.

I’m not judging anyone. But I wish there were a way to start a bigger conversation, to encourage more people to make those little choices everyone talks about all the time. Like not to use plastic bags at the grocery store or to think about how much garbage what they want will create. There are so many of us, if we all just made a few of those little changes it would make a big difference.

I thought about how the man at the recycling booth at the Inwood Farmer’s Market said  most people don’t recycle what they can in the current city programs.  I thought about how many times since I started this year of  thinking sustainable, I’ve wanted to drop it all and just buy a bottle of water.

I’m not saying that we should all go cold turkey and quit consumer convenient foods — but there are certainly times when a little bit of thought and planning and resolve could make a difference.

“If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change”

Of course, it’s hard to keep it up. Tonight, I bought the kids two boxes of individually wrapped ice cream pops even though we’ve had numerous discussions about how that kind of ice cream makes lots of garbage.

“I can draw on the wrappers,” he said, “then it will be like recycling.”

I gave in on the ice cream because like the mom at the breakfast, I wanted to create a moment that my kids would enjoy. My mother used to buy me those kinds of ice cream pops after she picked me up from school.   For me in that moment, the tug of nostalgia was stronger than the pull of living green.

When the teacher had asked the class what Man in the Mirror was about, Zane hadn’t raised his hand. So as we were walking to the subway, I asked him. After some prompting, he and Blaise came up with the right answer,”It’s about doing the right thing. The man in the mirror is you.”

That’s why I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do,” I said, “I’m trying to figure out how we can make changes in our life to make the world a better place.”

They both nodded, put the Popsicle sticks in our reusable bag so that they could be recycled at home. They looked like they got it. One can only hope.

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