Almost everyone wants to be distinctive and project a positive image of himself. The majority of people are successful in doing so. They may be well-cultivated, charitable and generous, devoted to social causes, or diligent and responsible.
On the other hand, there are people who do not establish a positive image of themselves. These people sink low in life. Unable to be remembered well, they go to the other extreme and seek to be remembered as notorious villains. Contemptuous of social norms, they ignore the criticisms of others. They dress peculiarly, act indecently, or take advantage of others. They want to establish an image of social nonconformity. There are also those who try their utmost to show they are superior, or curry favor, take bribes, skirt the law, and harbor evil intentions. All these people create bad images for themselves.
When circumstances are favorable, it is easy for us to establish a positive image. But this much harder to do when faced with difficult times. Nonetheless, there were many cases in history where people were willing to lay down their lives in the midst of turmoil. Thomas More did not sway when persecuted by his king. Six martyrs to reform the corrupt government at the end of the Qing Dynasty. These are but a few of the many nameless heroes who sacrificed themselves during upheavals and revolutions to establish an honorable image for others.
In today’s democratic society, governments use rewards and prizes to encourage their citizens to build good images. Even educational institutions and government agencies are concerned with image, establish certain criteria and standards.
There are many ways to establish a good image. Students study hard to impress their teachers. Children behave well so that their fathers and mothers will be pleased with them. Sons and daughters love and respect their parents to create a filial image. Scholars refuse to bow to pressure and publish their controversial views to establish their image of being capable and virtuous. There are public officials who refuse to accept money or bribes to maintain an image of virtuousness. Some businesspeople do not want to indulge in bad business practices or speculation. They seek to establish a positive professional image.
As humans, we should build positive images for ourselves. We should have a clear conscience so that we can face the world forthrightly, without bringing shame to our families and friends. One of the meanings of life lies in our establishing a positive image.