Regular readers know that over the past several months, I’ve made an effort to stop eating meat for reasons I outlined in some earlier posts. And it’s been much harder than I thought to drop the burger/chicken wing habit; at this point, I’m probably about a 50% carnivore.
My struggles with this apparently “simple” change led me to think about the connection, or overlap, between personal change and political/social change.
We sometimes talk as if personal changes (diet, exercise, smoking) are in one realm, while “Big” changes (recycling, conservation, race relations) are in another. But are they really that neatly and completely separated? When a politician calls on “the American people” to do X, there is no collective will to call upon; there are only the individual decisions to change or not change made by millions of people. If someone is in the habit of making racial slurs, and tries to stop doing it, isn’t he/she calling on the same “change muscles,” or whatever they are, as he uses to stop eating so many banana splits? To say otherwise is to posit some kind of dual brain, one half devoted to “little” changes and the other half to Big, Serious changes.
I discussed my problems kicking meat and other matters in an NPR /KERA radio commentary that aired this morning. Read or listen here if you like.