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  • Writer's pictureAnita Vandyke

Teach, don't preach

When you are embracing changes in your life, it's understandable that you are enthusiastic about these changes and want to share your newfound perspective with everyone. However, we need to remind ourselves that not everyone is ready for change, and no one is ready for judgment, it's time for us to teach, not preach.

I once had a friend who was really passionate about her diet. Her whole life was based upon her passion for this diet, she talked about it incessantly, pushed her arguments onto others and would only befriend those with a similar mindset. I tried to be empathetic towards her passion, I had similar viewpoints regarding my dietary changes, but I wasn't as strict as she was. I certainly never labelled my diet, because I found it difficult to put a label on anything so fundamental as food. At first, her suggestions were merely conversational, then her demands were cruelly displayed online on my Instagram page. I was completely disheartened by this. As someone she has known for almost a decade, surely, any grievances she had with my beliefs about my diet could be discussed privately? It made me realise that she was no longer just teaching, she was preaching. She was no longer just passionate, she was becoming militant about food.

In my own zero waste journey, I've seen so many people sit on their high horse judging others who aren't as 'zero waste' as they are. I am sure I've done this from time to time. But I've come to realise this does nothing to help spread the message of environmentalism. We all have to understand that we are all at different stages of change. We need to have compassion for others and not judge them on one Instagram post, one picture, one blog post. In judging others, we are really judging ourselves. We think just because we are better vegans, better zero-wasters, better mothers, better meditators, that we are better human beings. This 'high horse' mentality needs to change. We are no better than our friend who might have suffered from an eating disorder in the past and therefore, doesn't like to label her diet, we are no better than our friend who is a new Mum and trying her best with plastic-free living, we are not better than anyone else.

Instead of preaching, it's time to teach, but only teach when asked. There's no need to lecture someone about your lifestyle if they haven't asked about it. The best way to set a good example is to lead by example. Nowadays, I only tell people about my zero waste lifestyle when asked. When people see my cloth napkin or reusable coffee cup and are genuinely curious about my way of life, I am happy to share my tips. There's no need to preach to those who don't want to listen. When people see you are living a happy and carefree life, they will ask what's your secret - you can share it with them then.

It's time to get off your 'high-horse', no one is perfect. It's time to stop judging others and start living. We need more compassion in this world, we need more patience, we need more teachers, not preachers.

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