Changing the World, One Seed at a Time

Updated Jan. 20, 2021

I have a friend, let’s call her Jane, who recently discovered CrossFit and the ‘paleo lifestyle,’ as she refers to it. In six months she has made some significant life changes and gotten healthier and happier, and that is an amazing thing. I am happy to see it.

Less exciting to me is the new found wonder with which she feels obligated to comment at every meal. “Can’t do chips. Did you know carbs are bad for you?” Or, “I think I got glutened last night because my WOD was really bad this morning at the box.”

While I’m so happy she has found her own person enlightenment, her need to hammer it into everyone else around her makes her company less enjoyable than it was when she could enjoy a glass of wine here and there.

It happens to all of us at some time or another: we have some big revelation, be it about health or food or religion or environmentalism, and we go temporarily insane. We are so excited about the way this one thing can change the world that we feel an innate need to not only share it but to shout it at every opportunity. For most of us, it’s temporary insanity. We come back to terra firma and find a way to integrate our new wisdom without alienating everyone we know.

But for other people, they kind of lose it. They get an idea in their head that what’s happening is so life-altering for themselves or for others that everyone would feel the same if only they would listen to them. And if they are met with resistance or even polite ambivalence, these people get mad. And that’s when things get challenging.

I have a list in my head of things I think are important when it comes to animals, and it’s constantly evolving as I get older and wiser. As of now, it looks something like this:

  • People should be more proactive with veterinary pain control.
  • Euthanasia should be a family event open to children.
  • Tail crops, ear docks, declaws, and debarking for any reason other than the health of the pet should go the way of the dodo.
  • Parents should be more aware of canine body language and teach their kids proper, safe dog interaction.
  • Pet owners should be better prepared for veterinary expenses, and veterinarians should be better at communication.

And so on and so forth. It’s a long list.

The more time I spend on this planet writing about issues that are important to me, the more mellow I become. Yes, important things are important, but I also have come to realize that for me, change is a seed planted here and there, not a forest razed overnight. That’s just not who I am. But I spend a lot of time dealing with people who bring their bulldozers to me and ask me to help them mow down a grove of trees, and when I demur they get mad.

“Don’t you CARE?” they say.

“You’re with us or you’re against us!” they shout.

But that’s not how it works. Some people are Janes, who like to go all or nothing and either burn out spectacularly or go on to change the world. Others are like me, who go to the gym three times a week and try to eat more fruit and figure that’s good for now. Just because we are all headed in the same direction doesn’t mean we need to take the same path.

I understand how hard it can be to sit still when you think you are about to change the fabric of the universe, but I promise you that just because you haven’t started an overnight revolution with your newfound wisdom that doesn’t mean you haven’t made a difference. Nor does my lack of jumping in line behind you mean that I don’t care. I do, but you aren’t allowed to dictate how and when I advocate for change, because this isn’t about you; at least it shouldn’t be.

Now please stop e-mailing me to write about the plight of the red-winged Madagascar fruit gnat. I heard you the first four times.

Jessica Vogelsang, DVM


Jessica Vogelsang, DVM


Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, is a person who loves too many topics to be able to stick to one descriptor: writing, dogs, communication, cats,...

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