Working in the animal welfare field can be an emotionally challenging career choice. Dealing with life and death situations, witnessing animal abuse and neglect, and struggling with limited resources when there is so much need has caused many in this field to leave and pursue other types of work.
However, a significant reason people leave the animal welfare field is from being on the receiving end of vitriolic attacks by anti-animal shelter critics. Personal attacks, threats against their safety (and that of their children), and constant barrages and trolling on social media have caused committed, passionate, and talented people to leave animal welfare. This is a sad result, as this field needs these people to keep elevating the welfare of animals in our society.
When I encounter these attacks, I am reminded of the poem “Anyway” by Mother Teresa, which hung on the wall of her home for children in Calcutta. Her poem is a variation of an earlier work, “The Paradoxical Commandments” by Dr. Kent Keith.
“Anyway” impactfully describes life’s challenges, and how and why to respond. I often share it with colleagues facing the same situation. It was written for everyone, not just those who work in animal welfare, and I hope it resonates with you. Here it is:
People are often unreasonable, illogical,
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone
could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
This poem reminds us that we should persevere and make our best endeavors, guided by the meaning and value of our work, despite people committed to undermining our efforts. Whether you are guided by God, as Mother Teresa was, or your conscience, integrity, or other intrinsic beliefs, these words ring true. We can’t control what goes on around us, but we can control our response to it.
When we live and work according to our values, we remain fulfilled that we have done our best. No matter what others say or do, we can be true to ourselves, anyway.
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Help DACC in its mission of helping animals by supporting the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation: https://lacountyanimals.org/