When you decide to alter your lifestyle to adhere to a personal ethos you can do everything from not mention it to anyone to stand on a crate in Times Square and preach it.
You can hope to set an example simply by your actions, and that will no dobut be noticed by some. But is that enough? If you believe in something is it enough to simply do, but not speak out? I often wonder this when bloggers say they don't care about traffic or links or attention. I'm sure many of them speak the truth, but when I hear a political blogger or a green blogger say this I think either a) I don't believe you or b) I believe you, but then why bother? Aren't you trying to persuade when you blog a partisan political position (as I do for the Santa Clara County Democratic Party)? Aren't you trying to persuade when you devote much of your blogging energy toward Starbucks and it fair trade policies (as green LA Girl does)? green LA Girl publishes a Fair Trade primer here, and I don't think I'm assuming too much to say that she wants you not only to read it, but to change your coffee-buying behavior, right? So, if you're tryng to persuade, don't you want to persuade as many people as possible?
But can it go too far? I continue these ruminations in the extended entry...
So, I think we can all agree that the "flies with honey" argument applies to advocating behavioral changes. But wait, can we? I often defend PETA's most outrageous and, it must be noted, non-criminal, actions. I defend them because it gets them the press and attention they need to raise money to support the many, many non-glamorous, non-controversial, non-outrageous activities in which they are leaders. Sure, they alienate some people, but they also get their attention. And they make people think about uncomfortable things.
But you as an individual: would acting like PETA in your individual life be a successful evangelistic approach? I tend to doubt it. I'm happy to hear stories that prove me wrong, but I think the best approach an individual can make is to set an example not just by doing, but also by stating quite matter-of-factly what you are doing...and answering any and all questions about why.
Slowly but surely you can make people think differently about things they once took for granted. First it starts when they're considering you...
Two recent examples:
-My mom bought me a purse for my birthday. She made sure to tell me that she checked the label to ensure that the little tag hanging off the purse was faux leather, not real. For Christmas this year she bought me a cap and scarf, but made sure they were cotton, not wool.
-My friend bought me some little cat figurines for said birthday. He's a returning college student, and he bought the figurines on campus at a little fair that was going on. And he made sure he bought from a free trade vendor, picking up a bunch of free-trade literature for me (and himself) along the way.
But who knows where this leads? Perhaps it stop with their buying habits for gifts for me, but perhaps it begins to extend, Perhaps they realize you don't need to buy leather to buy a nice gift. Perhaps they realize there are lots of resources for free-trade items out there, and it's no real hardship to prefer such products.
I don't stand on a soapbox. (Well, OK, maybe a blog is a bit soap-box-y.) I also make sure people around me aren't unaware of my beliefs. They're a part of me every day.
Is that enough? Does that turn the wheels too slowly?
Is that too much? Does it alientate people and seem holier-than-thou?
How do you balance it? How do communicate your ethos, with the goal of encouraging others to take a closer look at their own?
I'd love to hear what you hip & zensters think.