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Chief’s Chatter: Reflections

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Command Chief
Mirror, mirror, on the wall ...
Question: What do Snow White, the Bible, and The Lion King have in common?
Answer: Important lessons about reflections.

Why do people look in mirrors? That seems like a simple question with an obvious answer. We look at our reflection because we want to see what we look like. If there is something we don't like when we look into the mirror, we do our best to correct it. In the end, we want to see what we look like because we want to know what others see when they look at us.

The last thing we want to do is go around all day with messed up hair or spinach in our teeth. We want the world to find us attractive (or at least as attractive as possible in some cases).

Just as it is important to us to look at our physical reflection, I believe it is important to also look at a reflection of what kind of person we are.

Whether you call it self-assessment or soul-searching, taking stock of our values, personalities, characteristics, and attitudes can make a big difference in our lives. Do you care what others see in you beyond your physical appearance? Do people enjoy being around you because of your attitude? Do people seek your advice because of your values?

I'm sure you are all familiar with the Snow White story. The queen was obsessed with her looks and overly concerned with being "the fairest in the land". The story takes an evil turn when the mirror informs the queen there is there is another in the land who is fairer than her. Even though she was beautiful on the outside, the queen was filled with hatred and evil on the inside. She was not interested in her inner state, only her outer beauty.
In the book of James in the Bible there is a passage that talks about looking at a mirror. James 1:23-24 state "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like."

This passage refers to the futility of looking in a mirror without the intent to take action to correct anything that was out of place. It's as if I looked in the mirror, saw that I had dirt on my face and then just went on my way without washing up. The intent look in the mirror didn't change a thing.

During the movie The Lion King, there is a part where Simba is off doing his Hakuna Matata thing. Rafiki, the sage mandrill, comes to find him and talk him into going back to Pride Rock to take his spot as the rightful king. Simba wants nothing to do with it. One scene shows Simba chasing Rafiki through the jungle when Simba comes to the edge of a pool of water. He looks into the water and at first sees his reflection. Then he sees the reflection of Mufasa, his father. The reflection says "Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than you have become."

It's natural to look into a mirror at our physical appearance. It may not be so natural to look at a reflection of our inner selves. I encourage you to take some time to take stock of yourself. What drives you? What is important to you? What do others see in you? Are you kind, compassionate, tolerant? Are you industrious, diligent, hard-working? Are you happy, pleasant, content? A good self-inventory can have a positive impact if you are willing to work on those areas that may need some attention. Keep in mind though, that there is a huge difference between being oblivious to a fault and ignoring a fault. Once you know something is out of place, there comes an obligation to take action.