by Marsha Rakestraw

A 2015 Gallup poll shows that a third of Americans “want animals to have the same rights as people.” Other polls show that a strong majority of people in the U.S. believe that animals – including farmed animals – deserve strong protections.

Yet the vast majority of people still eat animals.

A 2015 Consumer Reports poll shows that “almost 8 in 10 American consumers say they would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one.”

Yet a 2016 AP poll reveals that most Americans make their choices based on price, rather than whether an item is made in the U.S.

The gulf between our beliefs and our actions is called (in social psychology circles) the attitude/behavior gap.

What this gap highlights is whether we’re doing our best to model a message that reflects our deepest values.

The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) in Australia has a brief video that does a terrific job of reflecting back to us just how powerfully we model messages to our kids. Watch it here:

The same is true for everyone.

As Gandhi said, “My life is my message.”

We send all manner of messages in the everyday choices and actions we take.

Are we kind and patient with the check-out clerk, even though he’s taking forever to ring up our purchases?

How do we behave when our friend falsely accuses us?

What messages are we sending when we choose to stop at a fast food restaurant?

Do we remain silent when someone makes a racist comment?

How often do we speak out against cruelty and injustice?

Does our citizen engagement consist solely of signing petitions and “like”ing posts, rather than taking more substantive action?

How do we respond to those in need?

It’s important that we regularly ask ourselves “What do my choices say about my message, my values?”

In what ways have you successfully modeled your message?