If everyone simply accepted that one person alone could not change the world, then indeed, no one would change the world. Martin Luther King was just one person with a dream and Albert Einstein was just a boy with questions. Yet, they proved that sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference. Personally, I hope to make a positive difference by providing animals the voice they do not have. Through my involvement as an advocate against animal cruelty, I have truly discovered that each voice, regardless of the cause, has the power to spread awareness and inspire change.
My family has owned a delicatessen since 1969, so many people find it surprising that I choose to be a vegetarian in a crowd of corned-beef lovers. But, even as a child, I feared the meat cutter and dreaded the dried fish staring at me from the display case. Although becoming vegetarian is not a common choice in my family, I chose to stand up for my personal beliefs rather than simply blend in. This is because I believe in always being a first-rate version of myself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. Despite external pressures and influences, I try to remain true to my personality, spirit, and character. A challenging task, I strive to live my life authentically and in accordance with my inner values.
The world is a wonderfully diverse place, in which we must not only see through our own eyes and feel with our own hearts, but also learn from others and never stop questioning. Being a vegetarian is an expression of my individual values, but it would be impractical to expect everyone to share such ideals. Universal ethics can be arbitrary and ambiguous, but I am able to find clarity through giving thought to all of my decisions, honoring when I am wrong, and always appreciating those who challenge me. I do not consider myself morally superior, and never insult my family for eating meat right next to my tofu at the dinner table. Many may push their views on others, but in my world, vegetarians and carnivores peacefully co-exist. This is because in my world, I believe that each person is born an original and personally, I refuse to die a copy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.