This New Year
“O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.” –Baha’u’llah
One of the things that being a vegetarian helps me to do is become more of who I want to be. I am forced, with each seemingly small choice, to become who I am inside. Each step has been a struggle against what is easy. It is standing in a grocery store aisle with no rennet-free cheese available, with a pizza planned for dinner. It is being offered a s’more with gelatin-containing marshmallows when I’m craving gooey chocolate. It is reading every ingredient when I’m tired and short on time. It is being hungry sometimes. It is asking an impatient waiter for an ingredient rundown. It is driving to another store when the Target I’m at doesn’t sell cruelty-free shampoo. It is inconveniencing family and friends, and defending my choices. It is “giving up” things, one at a time, that my body never really wanted anyway. But at each juncture, I have found I can’t bring myself to support pain, slaughter, and torture, be it of humans or animals. I think of their eyes when they are scared, alone, fearful, in pain. I can’t say that any desire or convenience in my life warrants the fear, pain, torture, or slaughter of another.
Our forefathers, our ancestors, were amazing. Obviously, their ingenuity and survival skills resulted in us all being here today. But I think that society grows and progresses with each generation. We aren’t one species scrambling for a foothold in an imposing, scary world – we aren’t clawing our way to the top. We’re here. And our survival has been so successful that we are the detriment of others. As a species, our position is safe enough for us to look around and reexamine our position, our purpose, and our habits. Doing things just because we have the power to do them or because our forefathers did them that way isn’t worthy reasoning anymore. We can’t build our choices on such a foundation.
The way I interpret the quote above is that we are created noble beings, and every small choice we make in our lives can uncover more of that nobility. Every choice either moves forward our ever-advancing civilization or hinders its progress. Sometimes supporting the status quo and simply going about life as usual hinders that progress, if we aren’t thinking about the choices we’re making. I don’t have a New Year’s Resolution in the scheme of resolving to make a radical 180 degree pledge. It is a good time, though, to think about re-committing to making each small choice with awareness and purpose, so that we can rise unto that for which we were created.