“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ~ Maya Angelou
Being aware is hard work. As I have learned and grown, I have found myself in the often onerous position of having to release many of my former opinions and behaviors, based on what I experience and acquired understanding of the world around me. I think often that it was easier living in “blissful ignorance”, but – as a human being possessed of a compassionate heart – burying my head in the sand and continuing to live as I had prior to the acquisition of this knowledge is simply not an option. Yet this departure from my norm is not without challenges.
I have a figurative list of the many changes I have made in my habits, due to personal conviction:
- Boycotting Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Papa John’s, and Walmart
- Not allowing my boys to become members of the Boy Scouts
- Choosing organic foods and eliminating (to the best of my ability) GMO from my family’s diet
- Purchasing meat products from local farmers who are dedicated to humane agricultural practices
- Instituting Meatless Monday at our family table
- Purchasing merchandise made in the USA, whenever possible
This list could get very, very long…
My own personal code of ethics dictates that I make these particular changes in my habits and lifestyle. I’m sure if you think about it, you have a list of your own like this – an inventory of choices you have made based on what you know and what you believe to be a just reaction to that knowledge. It may be longer than mine or shorter, but I can almost guarantee that it will be different. Your own ethics may be distinct and inspire you to behave otherwise, to make different choices.
As Unitarian Universalists there is no authority dictating to us what is “right”. We share Principles but not doctrine, and the interpretation of those principles is personal and – although the core resonates consistently – will vary in practice from person to person. We are free to form our moral code individually, based on our shared values, and choose our behavior accordingly. And as Unitarian Universalists, we respect the right of each individual to make these determinations for themselves.
When we know better, we are compelled to do better. But what “better” looks like is unique to each of us. What does “better” look like to you?
* I am aware that not all reading this reflection identify as Unitarian Universalist. I invite you to consider this notion from the perspective of your own position of personal ethics, whether based on your chosen faith tradition/belief system, or simply your conscience. What changes have you been called to make, based on what you know?