Friday, August 28, 2015

Musings of Dr Liz - Honesty is the best policy... or not!

Dr Liz's musings is all about being honest  - and how one person's view of honesty isn't always the case, and it  isn't always the best policy.

Ok, let me re-phrase that - being honest and transparent is always the right thing to do - but sometimes, people use "being honest" as an excuse of voicing their opinion, phrasing it as "honesty", and using it to be cruel and vindictive.

The times to be honest includes the times when you are given too much change when you purchase something, or you accidentally broke something that belongs to someone else. Be honest at these times.  That is fair!

When are the wrong times?  When it falls into the sphere of personal opinion, or, when the expression of the honest opinion inflicts severe harm and pain on a fellow living creature (whether it be a human being or an animal), when it would serve no purpose other than to cause pain.

Recently, the American Veterinary Medical Association was running an "America's Most Favourite Veterinarian" competition, which I was following, with enjoyment.

I enjoyed reading the testimonials of the pet owners who voted for their vet - I enjoyed reading about fellow veterinarians, and how they had followed their dream, studied and worked hard, to work with our beautiful animals.

It was really exciting to see and read. It put a smile on my face to read about the final Top Ten! Yes, I am an Australian vet, but I always rejoice reading of the success of others, especially, when that involves helping our beautiful animals.

This morning, I was shocked to see that the competition was cancelled, due to cyberbullying.

Well, shocked is the wrong word!  The use of the word "shocked" would imply that it was something that would've been totally unexpected and out of the blue.  More appropriate words would be "Disappointed" and "saddened".

When I went onto a vet forum that I am part off, to my surprise (and disappointment), the attitude of fellow veterinarians was surprise that we should be surprised! "It is the way it is now", writes one veterinarian. " Vets are commonly victim to social media witchhunts" says another.  "Remember Shirley?" - and I had to stop reading the posts after that.  Shirley Koshi was a veterinarian I had never met, but she had committed suicide over 12 months ago as a result of the ongoing cyberbullying that she was victim to.

I had been pondering this all day - I remember the first time that our vet hospital at Russell Vale was broken into, in 1997 - the thief stole alot of tools, many of which belonged to my father, as we were renovating the building. It hurt, on many levels. We had felt violated.   Last year (2014), we were broken into five times - and whilst I was frustrated, the hurt was different - it was more of an acceptance of " this is the way it is,  move on".

The acceptance of someone breaking into my property, as if it is normal - well, that is just wrong!  We should not be living in a society where such things should be "normal", because burglary should not be considered "normal". or "the way it is".

Neither should bullying be considered "normal" or "that is the way it is" these days.  It shouldn't be a situation of "deal with it".

Bullying is wrong - either face to face or via the internet! Bullies need to be stopped. Sadly, our schoolyard bullies grow up to be adult bullies. They still need to be stopped, but they have had many years to perfect their skills - stopping them is not going to be easy.

The justification of the bullying in this veterinary competition is that they were speaking "the truth".  The truth is about the procedure of declawing of cats, which is, in actuality an illegal procedure in Australia.  I am not going to debate the need or not for this procedure, as in Australia it is not legal, except in exceptional circumstances.

 The procedure is legal in many areas of the US - attacking veterinarians performing a legal procedure is, to put it frankly, wrong! 

Change the laws, increase awareness - by all means, but cyberbullying is, wrong!  Bullying in any way, shape or form, is wrong.

 No person should be afraid to do their jobs, for fear of being bullied. A competition that rejoices the work of caring veterinarians should not be silenced. 

Veterinarians should not be afraid to care for animals, and publicising this fact,  for fear of social media assault or cyberbullying.

Many many years ago, tail docking was legal in NSW.  As a new graduate veterinarian, I was forced to tail dock - I did the procedure, under protest, in 8 puppies (my total for my career- thankfully)  - and I was very happy to be in a position, as an older veterinarian to refuse to do any more! 

I remember a day when a breeder of rottweilers (whom I had never met before or after) spat in my face when she found out that I was a member of the Australian Veterinary Association, and that I was opposed to cosmetic tail docking.  That was back in the mid 1990's.  Rotties commonly had their tails docked at 2-3 days of age. Tail docking is now illegal in NSW (thankfully).

She spat in my face, and said a few obscenities. I was manning a stall at a trade show in Sydney at the time.  Needless to say, her violent act was an eye-opener.

One personal belief should not be any reason to attack and hurt a fellow human being - perhaps they should follow Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you." If you expect one to treat your views with respect, then bullying is not the way to achieve that!

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
Robert F. Kennedy

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”
Martin Luther King Jr.

I am a (sad) Dr Liz today - the profession that I am part of, and absolutely, unashamedly, proud to be part of, was bullied into being ashamed of what it is they do.

 Sadly, I see things getting worse, rather than better, but being the eternal idealist, will always hope for the best - for if we practice compassion and kindness, we can leave this world a better place than how we found it. 

For compassion and kindness!