I have often heard people say, “A person of character is virtuous.” I pause and think about that. If I look at its definition, the dictionary states that it is a person of high moral standards. Sounds fair enough. But, I don’t stop there. If one must be of high moral standards to be virtuous, we must entertain the question of what a person must be or do to have high moral standards. Morality, is defined, once again in the dictionary, as being aligned with what is right and accepted. I guess that means in today’s society.
I play with the philosophy of virtuous healing, because we all would like our doctors to be virtuous, moral and aligned with what is right. Maybe. Not to introduce politics, but one of the craftiest slogans ever was Mr. Trump’s promise to make America great again. I could take that to mean make America virtuous, moral and right. But, I can bet Aunt Nancy’s farm that what I believe is morally right and what you believe is morally right is about as different as a duck and a platypus.
It doesn’t take a long stroll down memory lane to remember the atrocities that occurred under the guise of morality and righteousness. The inquisition of the middle ages and the crusades would be an example. The list is long. But, what does this have to do with health care for our pets? Ah, the answer lies in the question, “Is your veterinarian virtuous?”
Shall we start at the beginning. I wonder why your vet wanted to be a vet? I remember when I was sitting in the room with the committee of doctors that was in charge of selecting new veterinary students. One of them said to me, “Just why do you want to be a veterinarian and don’t say because I like animals. Most people like animals.” Little did I know at that time, how insightful that question was.
The one and only correct answer should be, “I enjoy taking care of animals.” Emphasis on enjoy. Enjoy, meaning an act of expressing joy. Of course, being a vet extends to taking care of animals in restoring their health. Only later, do we recognize that it also means taking care of them while they are healthy in order to prevent illness. That’s not the point. The point is that they truly enjoy what they do. Doing something that you truly enjoy is what defines being virtuous in your job, business, etc. Anything else is a facade.
Why do you think that veterinarians are now the number one ranked profession for suicides? When I got out of vet school, we were ranked down at about five or six, only above candlestick makers. The answer to the question is that most of these vets are not virtuous. They are caring, compassionate, devoted and so on, but most are not expressing their joy. They got into the business for the wrong reason.
How does this happen? Society pressure. I have to make something of myself. I have to serve society. I have to be successful. I have to make my parents proud. I have to help something or make something better. You know what I am saying. Most of us feel this way. The young person, scrambling to come up with the answer to these unanswerable questions, thinks, “How about a doctor? It is respected. No, that is too much. I like animals, so why not a vet? “ Bingo. Vets have been known to be respected, liked and trusted. What could be better for the ego.
The young person has made a decision, not based on what he truly enjoys, but what will serve his ego and society. The problem is, he doesn’t even know what he is doing. He is now committed, set a goal and away he goes. He does everything in his means to get into vet school, makes it through vet school and obtains his goal of being an animal doctor. And we all know how long happiness is retained from setting goals according to what is expected of us and not what we enjoy. Happiness is superficial, like eating an ice cream on a summer day. Before the second scoop is finished, it is already fading. Joy is eternal.
It isn’t long before he realizes that the animal doctor image in his mind has worn off and he is faced with the truth that he has sacked up an enormous debt from his schooling, encountering stress that he never imagined from his client’s expectations and many more fantasy breakers. It isn’t long before he starts looking for ways to feel good again, so he sets new goals. Maybe, he wants to have his own practice or go into a specialty field. The problem is, he is back on the hamster wheel and in time, after that goal is accomplished, he will realize that it didn’t truly fulfill him. In time, he becomes resentful to his clients, his patients and his profession. The high bridge is starting to look pretty good about now.
I am not saying that all veterinarians fall into this category, but many of them do. It is not hard to find if you look around. And you know, the same goes with many jobs, professions, etc.
We all want to work and be around virtuous people. They feel good to be around. Why? Because they enjoy their lives. They enjoy what they do. Money, security, etc. take care of themselves and are not an issue. These topics are topics of the ego because they are based on scarcity. These people can’t imagine not doing what they do. You know these people. The famous baseball player, Joe Johnson, was known to say, “Hell, I would play baseball even if they didn’t pay me.” This is virtuous living.
I remember when my oldest daughter, being born 6 weeks premature, was in the neonatal intensive care in Dallas. Her pediatrician was one of those ladies. She emanated compassion and kindness. These are the perfumes of being virtuous. She was skilled, to be sure, but she was so much more than that. Her virtuous persona allowed us to sleep at night because we knew that our daughter was in good hands. My daughter healed normally and I know that the doctor was a factor in that and I will be forever grateful.
Make sure that your health care providers are virtuous. You and your pet deserve nothing less. How would you know? By feeling. They will lift you up off the floor with their energy. Their enthusiasm about what they are doing is palpable and you need never question them because they are aligned with what is good about life.