How Having Clear Core Values Creates A World Worth Living InYesterday I had an interesting conversation with someone on Facebook. It’s a touchy topic: our eating habits. And specifically, the choice to eat meat and fish in spite of the fact that this requires killing animals. Now I understand how touchy this topic can be because it was only about three years ago that I was still eating meat and fish. I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend of mine who is vegan. I ordered salmon, and he was disgusted. He said he would not even want to kiss a woman who eats meat and fish. It was a pretty extreme reaction, and I did not really get what he was saying right away.
I had all the typical “defensive” responses, like “who the hell does this guy think he is telling me I’m wrong for eating fish when everybody else is doing it?” (As if “everybody else is doing it” has ever been a good reason to do anything, ever.)
I was annoyed to say the least.
It took another year or so for me to work through this issue for myself, and ultimately I realized he was absolutely right and I did become a vegetarian. Why? Because of my values. I understand that the Universe is all one, and that what we do to others will be done to us. That’s the law of karma. I also understand there is no difference in God’s love for any creature on this planet. Animals are equal to us. And within that value system, it is impossible to “justify” murder for the sake of my taste buds. It’s even more impossible when you consider that your body will actually be HEALTHIER if you stop eating meat. It’s even more impossible when you get yourself educated about the global impact of the production of meat and fish, how these industries are destroying our planet and our oceans.
So I stopped eating meat and fish. Because of my values. And now I view meat and fish as just as disgusting as my friend did. All I see in a plate of meat or fish is a profound violation of my deepest values of compassion for all living creatures. I don’t see “yummy.” I see murder and destruction of the planet and our oceans.
Now in the discussion yesterday, my friend has a response that I’ve seen many times before. He talks a lot about love, and he wants to argue that “form doesn’t matter.” I should see beyond the fact that he eats meat and fish to his essence, and it shouldn’t matter whether he eats meat and fish.
Well, here again, if we are in touch with our values, our “bullsh*t detector” will be activated. Yes, of course at the highest level of abstraction, we can see God’s love in everyone. Even the most heinous war criminals and murderers. But spirituality that goes only that far is totally impotent. It will never create a world worth living in. The only thing that is going to create a world worth living in is if we also adhere to a second value. Beyond compassion, we must also adhere to the value of INTEGRITY. And that means your actions match your words.
Am I claiming to be perfect with this? Absolutely not. I still make mistakes all the time, where my word and my deed do not match up. But pretending this is not the case will get us nowhere. Denial is one of the biggest problems we have today with having our spirituality actually get results in this world.
If you preach compassion and practice murder, I’m sorry, that is simple hogwash. It’s hogwash. Am I still living with some contradictions? Yes, I am. And let’s be honest about it. I don’t know what to do about my cats, who are still eating meat. I do not want to sacrifice their well-being so I need a better solution. But humans are not like cats. We have exactly ZERO need to eat meat and fish. Just look at our primate ancestors. I also have a contradiction in that I do not want to be living with termites or carpenter ants in my walls, and I don’t yet have a good solution for that. My car has leather in it because that’s what came in it, and I wish it did not have leather in it. I am still grappling with unethical practices in the dairy industry and considering whether to go full-on vegan.
So I am far from perfect. But I am at least going to be honest about these contradictions. Because when I am honest (a third VALUE), then I can start working on a better answer. If I am going to lie to myself, then I am not going to change anything in this world. And if I am not in the process of bringing Heaven to Earth, then my spirituality and teaching is meaningless.
The values issue also came up recently in a relationship that I have invested a LOT of energy in healing. I was asked to compromise. And I probably would have compromised if it were not for my clarity of VALUES. A fourth value I have is that I do not believe in compromise or sacrifice. I only believe in win/win. So I will be holding out for a win/win answer in that situation. And that makes me feel good.
So that’s the question … where are your values? How many times every day do we each hurt ourselves by violating our own integrity? It’s this deep exploration and alignment and practice of values that is going to create a world worth living in.
Every day, I clarify my value system a little bit more. And every day it brings me a little more happiness and peace and freedom.
Erika Awakening, High Priestess of Miracles here at TAPsmarter