Mirror , mirror on the wall


Brian Yap, the NST columnist , wrote a very thought provoking article in the NST today titled :  Pitfalls of seeing ourselves in mirrors.

He wrote:

IN Snow White, the evil queen famously asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” The response she was used to receiving was that she was the most beautiful in the land.

Imagine her outrage when the mirror revealed a different answer one day. Someone else had taken over the mantle of being the most desirable. Her anger, of course, wasn’t because the mirror was lying, but rather, it was because it was telling the truth.

Mirrors aren’t always perfect. Depending on how well they’re made, the reflection offered can sometimes be distorted. How and where it is placed will also give a different image. Nevertheless, mirrors do offer a good idea of what we look like. Put several mirrors together, and we might even get to glimpse parts of ourselves previously impossible physically.

The delusional and conceited aside, few of us will ever be completely happy with the reflection we see. Sure, we can blame the mirror, but another one inevitably offers a similar image. Reflections cannot be changed. It is only us that can.

For as long as I can remember, there’s always been a lot of resentment from the government about the way foreign media have covered Malaysia. Unlike the local mainstream media, international news organisations don’t have to be too concerned about what the Malaysian government thinks.

The latest spat resulting from Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin’s displeasure at the manner of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Bersih rally on Nov 10 is widely known – and circulated on the Internet – by now.

Whereas before, the foreign media was typically Western in origin, the irony was that this time, a Middle Eastern-based media organisation with a broadcast centre in Kuala Lumpur seems to have caused the most offence.

I think Brian Yap has used a very apt metaphor in describing this incident of a minister’s displeasure against a renowned news agency . As Yap has mentioned, this incident is now known world wide, being first reported in Malaysiakini and the blogs and is being widely circulated in the net.

A mirror will reflect only the truth. When our face is clean, the mirror will show that clean image. When our face is dirty, the mirror will only show a dirty face because mirror is only a reflection of what we actually are.

When western news agency reported good news about our country, we take pride and say that it is because we are so good. When , on the other hand, the news agency reported something bad, we don’t not blame ourselves but instead we blame the mirror -the agency in this case. We never like the ugly image in the mirror, not realising that the image is the actual reflection of ourselves.

We blame the mirror.

One of the famed 72 disciples of Confucius is Zheng Tsu(曾子 ). He has a famous saying, which perhaps we can learn from:

He said :





It means: “Everyday, I will reflect on myself numerous times regarding three aspects:

Firstly, did I do anything disloyal to my friends/my people ?

Secondly, did I take up my responsibility to the best of my ability, and not fail in the expectation of my boss/my people?

Thirdly, did I revise my books and learn new knowledge?”


This piece of advice by the Sage is very meaningful. All politicians, all parents, all children, all spouces, all teachers, in fact everyone, should practice this.


It is like looking into the mirror many times a day- we do that physically, dont we,  in order to try to look presentable. But why not look into our inner selves and reflect on these 3 aspects of life? It is like letting our inner  soul look into mirror , too.


It will certainly make us realise how inadequte all of us are. How many mistakes we have made.


It is not the mistakes that is important, after all, we human are all fallible. It is to realise our mistakes and try to correct our ways that is important.


If we do that, we will be a much better person and we will not let power and all the trappings of power blind our inner selves. We will start to feel shameful again over our mistakes.


To be able to feel shameful over our mistakes will be a  good motivation force for us to change our way , to correct our mistakes, and be a better person. Too often and too many people have forgotten how to feel shameful and that is why so much of bad things are happening now!


Next time , when you look into a mirror, try to remember this saying and let your soul look into a virtual mirror , too!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Winston
    Nov 21, 2007 @ 13:17:11

    We have been fed sludge by the local government controlled media for decades.
    So much so, the people cannot think for themselves; that’s why they behave like robots and voted for BN at every GE.


  2. monsterball
    Nov 21, 2007 @ 16:10:51

    Fantastic guilty or not guilty conscience searching message Doc.
    My late Chief Reverend…Dr. Dhammanada….had written dozens of books….with same messages and advises.
    But from my experiences….one can master and understand fully what is right or wrong….yet will use all these knowledge to twist and turn for personal selfish benefits..because what were read and understood not enough.
    One must be generous…feel for others…think for others…work tirelessly for family and children.
    So those that are not married yet….difficult for them to appreciate this piece. I have a worker…complete change for the better..after getting married and I predict he will be better…once he is a father.
    It is still the compelling love of a person to want to feel true and learn…but few are compelled to take care of old parents only…..no children nor married yet…….these people will read the message with lesser importance to their lives.
    Politics is always dirty….and which government will admit the walk by thousands are not happy with them?…surely one cannot expect any government will admit their glaring mistakes.. Ask them to see the mirror…..what mirror? All they care is do a great act to fool the weak minds…thinking again and again…what is next best move for their personal benefits.
    The message is very good for all voters to read and understand…as the country depends on their wise choice.
    Then in blogsphere…..you are special. You do care and prick the guilty souls with your messages.
    You should be a priest…not a doctor…….hahahahahaha


  3. Trackback: The huamn face of a leader « Dr Hsu’s Forum

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