Most people feel strongly about the need to right the wrongs of society, but their actions don’t always mirror their beliefs. This week, we look at the profound impact of integrity – of aligning actions with values – when it comes to creating change.
We see it all the time, either in ourselves or in others – a disparity between attitudes and behaviours. Someone might say they want to get fit, for example, but never take any exercise. Or they might express concern about the amount of rubbish going into landfill, but make no effort to recycle their own.
Of course, these are hugely simplified examples and there are all kinds of influencing factors at work when it comes to people’s personal lifestyle choices. Nonetheless, society is rife with this sort of inconsistency, double standard, or whatever you want to call it, even though people are mostly big-hearted, well-intentioned and honest.
So what’s going on? According to psychologists, something called the “value-action gap” is at play – a concept that’s thrown into sharp and sobering relief in our latest campaign film, part of our End the Cage Age campaign.
A filmic experiment
Early on, we’re told this 3-minute short is an “experiment”. Not the scientific sort that will yield evidence for collating and analysing, but a much more subtle, personal test that asks viewers to reflect on whether their inner and outer selves, their feelings and actions, are consistent or at odds.
What ensues is a fast-paced collage of mass-media footage – from Hollywood films to TED talks to news clips – that form a poignant narrative on what it means to possess true compassion and integrity. Clear, concise statements (“you can lie to everyone but yourself”) and direct questions (“what are your values, and what are you going to do about it?”) focus the mind, priming it for the revelation you know must be coming.
Action vs silence
And when it finally does arrive, the reality of industrial rabbit farming – which affects 326 million rabbits every year – is horrifying and heart-rending in equal measure. Soon enough, you’re given the choice to speak out against such cruelty or remain silent and do nothing.
The film’s message has clearly struck a chord, gaining over 34,000 views, 6,000 social-media shares and 7,000 action takers – and counting!
Although the film raises an interesting point about what society so often fails to do, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Indeed, there is an exciting message in there, too – that is, if people choose to act on their beliefs, the world could be a far better, brighter place. And, ultimately, we could end factory farming – one of the most catastrophic practices of modern times, responsible for the suffering of billions of animals, a decline in human health and the destruction of our planet. That is a truly inspiring thought.
The good news is that many of us already do a good job of correlating our behaviours and beliefs, either through hard work or instinct, or a combination of both. Examples of the incredible impact this right-mindedness can have include our many campaign wins to date, as well as the growing field of “social responsibility” – the incorporation of ethics into business strategy – which is, by and large, a reaction to consumer pressure.
Be the change
If you think it’s time to stamp out the blight that is factory farming, then it’s time to stand up for your beliefs. As the American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead so famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”