RANGER EXPOUNDS ON CHANGE THEORY
These last few days Ranger and I have been sharing much about why people change. We’ve concentrated on change that seems to be happening for me, and another for him. These heady exchanges have concentrated on why we have made these changes.
We both believe that change is hard. It’s hard because the inertia of “normal” is so strong. We both want very much to be accepted by our peers and our family.
Me: “Several years ago I identified a goal for myself. I wanted to eat much lower on the food chain. It would be good, I reasoned, for financial reasons, beans and lentils being much cheaper than meat. Also, for health reasons. Meat available to me is full of toxins and produced in less than admirable conditions…. If I tell you how chickens now live, you wouldn’t eat them either, not that you have a chance. But I wasn’t doing it for social reasons. Let’s be blunt: I raised my kids on a diet that relied on the frozen meat provided by my in-laws who raised good beef and pork on their Iowa farm. It was delivered to our freezer, and formed the backbone of our meals, along with lots of fresh vegetables I grew myself. Further, when we went to a restaurant, the first thing we all looked for was a meat, and then wondered about the side dishes later. So my kids, and my friends, were and are carnivores. So when I made my goal I practiced it alone. When I was out with friends or family, or entertaining, I reverted back to past practices: meat first, sides next. When I started hanging out with Darryl it was easier, because he ate no meat. In the meantime I have educated myself on the practices of animal husbandry and have become horrified by the way chickens, beef cattle and pigs are raised and slaughtered…and the terrible price the planet pays for using so much land to produce meat. Did you know that just one hamburger takes more than 600 gallons of water to produce? I’m not going to expound on all the data, but trust me, it’s bad.”
Me: …. “So I have stopped eating meat. I still eat fish. That transition away from eating meat makes me happy. And I feel better.”
Ranger: “So your change of diet was made incrementally and for yourself, if I understand you correctly, and you are satisfied…. happy…. with that change. So what’s the problem?”
Me: “I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with that change. I don’t want to sound preachy or like I know better than anyone. It would be better for the whole world if cheeseburgers were no longer sold, but my job is just to be me and to manage myself. I no longer buy cheeseburgers. So when I say anything, it’s ‘I’m doing this for me, because I feel better and happier knowing my body isn’t contributing to the misery of animals.’ I don’t advertise this change. In restaurants it’s easy, because usually fish is available. I’ve got an increasing trove of good fish recipes at home, so I can continue to entertain without making it look like I’m trying to manipulate everyone’s eating habits. When we go to the homes of relatives and friends, I’m becoming more comfortable saying, ‘May I bring my own dish, since I’m no longer eating meat?’ It’s surprising, really, how easy it is.”
Ranger: “So back to your theory of change: since you believe it is incremental and personal when it happens best, what’s next for you in the food department?”
Me: “I believe I will continue to educate myself on things like cheese and egg production…. ice cream too. And fish!!! Maybe the next level for me is to cut way back on that. I’m not saying I’ll become a vegan, but I might. And if I do, it will be because it will make me happy.”
Ranger: “Okay, so change is personal, transitional, and best if not forced from the outside. I guess my own story is pretty much like that. I am changing in the same way regarding how I relate to people. I am slowly getting comfortable with strangers by taking my cues from you and Darryl. When someone comes to the house now I raise a ruckus, but when I see the two of you happily talking and relating to them I calm down and even welcome them. Did you notice the other day when I brought the ‘Blue Bone’ to your friend Michelle?”
Me: “I noticed that! Last week it happened twice, as a matter of fact. Now, will you do the same with my grandkids?”
Ranger: “Hruumph… I’ll think about that. But next session, let’s talk about a thornier topic related to change. It’s climate change and how that impacts you and your life. I believe that discussion might be less rosy and a lot more tense. Get ready.”