A Blog By Saye Clement, DVM

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

I first read A Tale of Two Cities in high school (and I will thank you to NOT ask how long ago that was 😊). It is amazing to me how the first few lines are still so pertinent and resonate more than a century and a half after it was written.

No one will argue that 2020 has been a trying year; great heartbreak and trauma for so many of us, and it’s not yet over.

And yet…

History shows us that following upheaval, we see massive social, economic, religious and cultural change. The Italian Renaissance arose as a direct result of the Bubonic Plague. Out of that epidemic rose the society which gave us da Vinci, Galileo, Copernicus and Michaelangelo. In England, amongst the other great cultural artists, we find Shakespeare.

My friends and colleagues, we are at a crossroads. There are so many forces at work that are signalling change. The time is now – we can make this the spring of hope.

As a veterinarian, I am called upon to treat many different diseases and syndromes in my patients. Let’s talk about how the veterinary community can use a multi-modal approach to support societal change. This is a form of treatment that we know well, and let’s be honest, we are pretty good at it. We treat cancer with surgery to remove the lump, multiple chemotherapeutic drugs to deal with microscopic disease, and supportive treatment to ensure our patient continues to eat while enjoying a good quality of life. Are any of those treatments more important than the others? No. Are they all different? Yes. And do they collectively improve the overall outcome for the patient? Yes.

Let us exemplify the caring profession that we are. Be compassionate. While we all realize that it is the time for change, many of our friends and colleagues may be at different places in their 2020 journey. Some of us have the energy to advocate and be vocal. Some of us have, for many years now, quietly worked at affecting change one relationship at a time and have never felt the need to publicize the fact that we do so. Some of us have no emotional reserves left and need to ensure our own mental health and stability. Every single one of these approaches looks after a separate part of the disease which is racism, and none of these approaches are wrong. Change in the group comes about with change in individuals. The more different approaches we have, the greater the likelihood that we will resonate with any one individual, and we never know where the tipping point lies. Our profession is small, but collectively, we can do anything. Fractured and in pieces, we are far less effective. Be kind. And if you believe in diversity, you will support the idea that there may be more than one path for us to ensure that society gets where we need it to go.

2020 is my call to action. Let it be yours as well – in whatever way you choose, in whatever way you can. Collectively, we WILL make a change.

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