This I Believe

Anna - Norfolk, Virginia
Entered on June 30, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I Believe

The other morning as I sat at my computer, I heard the jarring sound of shattering glass. I looked out the window to see a young man pulling a purse through the shattered window of my colleague’s Toyota. Had others been looking out their window a few moments later, they would have seen that same man running down the street with bulging pockets and, several yards behind him, a gasping woman nearly twice his age chasing him. That was me.

Forty minutes and half a mile later, those peering from their windows may have seen the young man in hand cuffs being led to a police car.

Afterward I wondered what counter-evolutionary instincts would drive a woman in pumps and business casual attire to hop over fences in order to nab a possibly armed and dangerous thief. In retrospect, an inner voice asked “What were you thinking?!” But it wasn’t thoughts that sparked the chase, it was a belief.

I believe that my values are more than a conversation piece or fuel for philosophical banter; they are something to be incorporated into my actions every day. This often calls for examination and deliberation. It sometimes is inconvenient or unpopular, but acting upon what the mind and heart determine is right is essential to true living and the key to our personal power. My sense of right and wrong is my compass that allow me to navigate through a maze of decisions.

Everyday I see the consequences of actions made without reference to a moral compass. As a director at PETA, an international animal rights organization, the victims I see have no voice and few defenders, but their ability to suffer pain is as great as mine or yours.

Acts that go against our own moral compasses are not always obvious. Some are results of blind complicity. I’m vegetarian now but there was a time when I relished meats of all kinds. One day at a pizzeria, after my friend and I had ordered pepperoni pizza, the topic of vegetarianism came up. Through the course of the conversation, for the first time, I though about how my dollars fuel the killing of animals I would otherwise want to pet and care for. When the pizza arrived, I removed the pepperoni and never felt huger for meat again. It’s not enough to talk. Our ideas must be put into action or we forfeit the power that is our birthright.