Coming Together for a Fairer, Kinder Future

Coming Together for a Fairer, Kinder Future

2020 continues to be a year of upheaval and, in many ways, horror at times. From bushfires and Brexit to Coronavirus and now, once again, the ugly spectre of racism rears its head. 2020 is demanding change, it is demanding that we stand together to ensure that all of these events have not occurred in vain. How will you promote a fairer, kinder future? Below, I outline my thought process at the moment.

The death in the United States of George Floyd while in police custody is shocking and heart-breaking and I salute those who are stepping up to raise awareness and protest at this and the many injustices we are challenged with. There seem to be so many this year it can be overwhelming and hard to know where and how to act, at times it feels like being a heavyweight boxer caught on the ropes, taking a pummeling.

Speaking personally, each incident has given me pause for thought on my own life, what are my options and how can I proceed in a way that feels right to me, so I live in accordance with my values and best to honour the people, communities and planet I hold dear.

After some reflection and time to noodle on this, my decision is to work on the things I can control or positively influence and re-examine my own thoughts and actions. I’m also going to choose to turn down the volume on things I cannot control. As my mentor and friend Dr Steve Noonan once taught me, there is no value in inflicting the violence on endless repeat. That only generates anxiety and such fear that thought and action becomes clouded. We must reflect individually before we can stand together. And that is where the power comes from.

I’m making the conscious choice to respond and in a moment as incendiary as this, not react. To do so risks extending the reach of hate. I choose not to incite or propagate hate of any kind.

As a person this means digging deep to examine my feelings, values and motives.

As a business owner and role model, this means making sure I hire and work with people because they are the best fit for a job and to not discriminate. On this I know I can do more – which is not to say I’ve been actively discriminatory, that’s not only illegal, but utterly against my values. But it is to say that I will seek greater diversity in future. It also means choosing my words and actions carefully and thoughtfully, to try to lead by example. It also means making services and products that help.

As a global citizen this means standing shoulder to shoulder with those who are not the same as me but share my values. I’ve done this again and again, from attending marches for better conditions for teachers (TBH that was me being taken along by my mum as a kid) and against Brexit, to campaigning for marriage equality in Australia, to supporting charities and events that do good. It shows up in my choice to be vegan and live in a wonderfully diverse community full of people who do not look, sound or act like me.  All of these decisions are driven by a deeper desire to inhabit and explore a world that is a fascinating, fun and fair place. But it’s not like that for everyone. In fact, my life is utterly charmed when compared to so many. And that’s the bigger point here. I, like most (if not all of you) who are reading this, have had advantages from the very start. We have been running in a race that has not had fair rules.

I’m seeing a lot of messages that racism has no place in veterinary medicine. I agree, 100% with this sentiment. Nice soundbite, but does it stand up to scrutiny, or is it just a nice graphic to post when a convenient moment arrives? Something doesn’t feel right to me, just walk around a conference and you’ll see what I mean.

We visibly lack diversity when it comes to race representation (and gender). The most recent survey of the UK vet population put some numbers on the problem, just 3% of vets are from an ethnic background different to the white majority. In the US this number is apparently even lower. These numbers are not proportionate or representative which is a problem it would serve our community to address. This may not be a sign of open racism, but it does show that things are not equal. It’s an area for work and improvement.

So again, the question for us all is what can we do that is within our sphere of influence and talent to ensure that we are a fair, diverse and just community? 

That might mean raging on social media to you. But it doesn’t mean that to me. And that should be fine.

Rage if you must, but rage right – attacking good people who also care because they don’t say or do the same things as you is, at best, ironic because it demonstrates that the point of diversity has been missed. At worst, it is shaming or bullying behaviour and that is another form of hate that no-one needs.

Silence on social media does not mean you don’t care. Silence does not mean you don’t act. Silence does not mean weakness. It does not mean your work or business has no value.

There are many ways to protest. Many ways to act. So you do you, and more power to you. I’ll do me. And we’ll stand stronger together against the things that need to change.

1 thought on “Coming Together for a Fairer, Kinder Future

  1. Wow, the things you find out when you get distracted and delve a little deeper. It’s not always bad losing focus on the task at hand when something grabs your attention. I read through your blog because I was scrolling my emails and really enjoyed some of the VetX interviews a few years back in Australia. I totally get your point and what a pleasure it was to see you are vegan. I became vegetarian a few years ago (I would be vegan but I eat my own chooks eggs) as it didn’t feel right to me anymore to eat meat especially when I felt our current animal welfare standards were not adequate and also because of our huge impact on the environment which I have always been passionate about. The trigger was my transgender vegan son who made me see how important it is to live by your values and acknowledge who you are, and how damaging it is when you don’t. I had somehow let life dampen my passion and values both in business and in my personal life. That’s not to say I didn’t have any, just that I realised I needed to live them entirely and not just partly because I felt hypocritical for so long. I believe that we should all live the way we want but with kindness and thought so I will speak up if I see an injustice and I will continue to have robust respectful conversations when the situation requires. Anyway great to see more and more people embracing their values as no matter how controversial, it is better to live in harmony with yourself before you can be an effective advocate for animals, diversity and the environment. Black lives matter, all lives matter and that includes animals!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *