January 2020 - Labeling your Resolutions

Dear friends

Labels are fun! Whether applying them to someone (‘Tory’, ‘French’, ‘Anglican’, ‘Yorkshire’) when they tell you something, but not everything, about a person. Or whether you are reading them as the small print on the side of a food packet, looking for those hidden ingredients that you are trying to avoid.

I like labels. They act as a shortcut in getting to know someone: “So, what do you do for a living?” This classic helps sort out all sorts of pre-judgments one can make about a new acquaintance (and don't tell me you don't do the same). I like food labels too. Having been vegetarian for nearly thirty years, I routinely look for what has been unexpectedly added to food (fish sauce and gelatin pop up in all sorts of places), and in a few seconds can decide if something is going to ok for me to eat.

The moment comes when we decide to change our own labels, and New Year is one of those. “This year I shall be a gym member” (the get-fit resolution); “This year I'm going to become a musician” (the mid-life crisis guitar lesson resolution). For some, they resolve to make a 180° turn in their lives – popular, but rarely successful, especially when connected with alcohol. My current label is that of 'Flegan' – a flexible vegan. At home I will not usually eat dairy or eggs, and never meat or fish, but when out, and especially when I'm a guest, I'm a little more negotiable in what I'll consume. Like you, I consider myself a moral person, who is concerned not only for my health, but also for the environment. To be honest, I don't meet many people who would openly state that they are amoral, care nothing for their bodies, and don't give a stuff about the world around them and its future.

However, let us frame the question like this: If there was one, unarguable change that you could make in your life that would move you along your preferred direction on the spectrum of morality, positively benefit your health, and decrease your negative impact on the planet, would you do it? If you were to look into the research, do your own homework, and if the science affirmed it, that eating a plant-based diet did all three, would you actually be up for it? I'm not stating this as fact for you to blindly accept, but if it were true, even if you didn't completely change your label to 100% plant-based, or make a 180° turn, would you be willing to make the 1°, 5° or 10° change in your lifestyle that would arguably benefit yourself and others?

What fascinates me is the cognitive dissonance that we so often live with – the discontinuity between what we discover to be good and right (or wrong and bad), and how we respond to that in our daily routines and habits.

As we enter this new decade, perhaps if we all were to steer a few degrees away from the global collision course we are currently on, we might begin to bring things around. None of us are observers, we are all passengers on this ride, with a collective responsibility. Morality, health and the environment. I'm going to label my resolution as 'Trying my best'.

Happy New Year

Nick Bird

Your Parish Priest

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the January 2020 issue of The Grapevine