Let Us Be Like the Sun.

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I just finished another chapter in a book that is changing my world, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends And Influence People. Written in 1936, Dale’s book from the title alone suggests a way of living that will win people to your side and help change people’s minds to your personal point of view. Figuring it would be great for my business tactics as an actress (as I’m always looking for ways to convince people to cast me in new projects!), I started reading, only to discover that Dale was simply sharing with the world how to be a kind, warm, patient, and empathetic human being.

Dale’s most recent chapter was enough to inspire me to write today. He shares with his readers an old fable by Aesop about a disagreement between the sun and the wind. Dale writes:

They quarreled about which was the stronger, and the wind said, “I’ll prove that I am. See the old man down there with a coat? I bet I can get his coat off him quicker than you can.

So the sun went behind a cloud, and the wind blew until it was almost a tornado, but the harder it blew, the tighter the man clutched his coat to him. 


Finally, the wind calmed down and gave up, and then the sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man. Presently, he mopped his brow and pulled off his coat. The sun then told the wind that gentleness and friendliness were always stronger than fury and force. 

How many times in our lives are we like the wind - fiercely protecting what we know is true and even more fiercely laying what we know onto others? I can only speak for myself, and to this I say -- well, I’m learning to be a little less windy.

Which naturally begs the question -- how can we apply Aesop and Dale’s message to our own daily lives, particularly in terms of living vegan? 

I find that when I’m asked about my vegan lifestyle, or when a person shares an observation about my being vegan, my body still, after nearly four years of living this way, feels a tenseness and uneasiness inside. It usually only lasts a few moments, and I know now where it comes from. I’ve had countless instances in the past where my “fury” and “force” to defend my lifestyle led me to losing support and understanding from people. This naturally built up within me a reservation against sharing my story, for fear that I will lose another friend or another fan.

Learning the why in all of this has helped me immensely. I blew my wind so furiously because my decision - to live vegan and honor animals and fellow humans for the rest of my life - has gone from a mere decision to becoming my moral compass, my own set of personal ethics, my True North. If there was a label for my faith nowadays, it would be living and practicing Ahimsa (for those newbies who are saying, “what’s Ahimsa?”, click here). Celebrating, honoring, and living by this credo has meant everything to me. It became so strong for me in recent years that I guess I’ve created this deep down, fairly irrational fear that one day, somebody might be able to take it all away from me, or even worse, one day, I may stop caring. Which, in the past, made me want to blow my wind even stronger, or in the case of the old man, hold onto my coat even more tightly. 

A moment of gentleness with Winny at Animal Acres.
It took a lot of trial, and even more error, before I learned that a gentle, positive touch is always the way. When people take the subject of your living vegan and provoke you, argue with you, challenge you, even make fun of you, I’m finding more and more that the impetus for all of the above comes from a place of genuine curiosity. A lot of us hold strongly and with deep pride onto our beliefs (again myself included), so whenever that is challenged in any way, even the most levelheaded and rational people can become emotional and rash. This is totally understandable, but unbelievably unhelpful, however, in creating change in others. Because the minute we become fierce, dogmatic, ever more rigid in how we share our lifestyle with our community, the less appealing it is to be around us. And what’s the most important thing in this whole equation? I think, and I may be wrong, but I do think that getting the most amount of people to live vegan wholeheartedly is it. So to do that is to appeal to a wide range of personalities, attitudes, deep seated beliefs, and ethic systems.

So let us be like the sun, and start small, with things like:

- positively acknowledging our loved ones when they eat a vegan meal,

- agreeing initially with someone who just doesn’t “get” our lifestyle as a way of gently opening them up to our point of view,

- treating our friends to vegan meals at beloved restaurants,

- when asked about living vegan, kindly asking the person about 
their own journey with eating and animals, 

- thanking someone for asking why we live vegan,

- rather than only sharing the facts about animal abuse, kindly sharing our own personal truth and letting our vegan story speak for itself.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this subject, so please share ideas and feedback in the comments section below. As I’ve said before, this blog wouldn’t exist without you, my lovely, kiss-worthy readers.


May you all live like the sun and shine your beautiful, compassionate light on all you encounter.

Comments

That gem of a book is sitting on my bookshelf and I use it as a resource for working with clients and how clients work with others.

Great analogy about how to effectively deal with people. Even in a world of social media, online presence, and iphones, human communication will always be at the core of creating meaningful connections and get what you need.

There is no substitute for humans.
becca said…
What beautiful wise words Lindsay. You are constantly inspiring me.
CurlyLocks said…
Inspiring! Still so relevant...I remember my father referring to Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.
rachel said…
I love Dale Carnegie. I have no idea how many times I have read that exact book, yet every time new things come to light.

I also love what you said about being like the sunshine when approaching the subject of veganism with others. I try to do this. I share vegan desserts at potlucks, or just bake wonderful vegan treats for family and friends for fun. I never bring up the subject myself. I let others ask.