In light of the recent forum posts regarding CAN’s future, I was attracted to the following story to help me clarify my intention as a CA practitioner wanting to take a more active role in CAN’s evolution.
Throughout the history of classical music, men have dominated the orchestras, especially in Europe. The belief among maestros, music directors, and conductors was that women were of inferior strength, stamina, resilience, and lung power. The shape of women’s lips and their small hands were also accepted as severe handicaps.
When auditions were held, men consistently performed better according to the trained ears of the experts. These experts believed they could under any circumstance objectively evaluate the quality of any performance and tell the difference between music produced by male and female.
In the United States, orchestra musicians eventually organized themselves into unions. At the top of their list of goals were fair auditions. To accomplish this, they started putting screens in between the selection committee and the musicians to ensure that nothing was known about the musician.
Since the screens starting going up in the 1970’s the percentage of women in orchestras went from 5% to almost 50%.
In the Afterword of Malcolm Gladwell’s book BLINK ( from which I summarized this story), the author challenges the reader to think about what we would have done, had we been in charge of creating fairness in this miserably broken system….
–Create complex affirmative action programs for women musicians
–Create elaborate gender bias and social discrimination initiatives at music schools and orchestral conferences
–Teach women musicians how to aggressively advocate for themselves in auditions
–Approach the self assured Maestros and insist they reflect on their unconscious and conscious gender bias and all the contexts of their experiences in which the bias was cultivated.
OR WOULD WE SIMPLY PUT UP THE SCREENS?
Of Course, this is not a perfect example on which to compare CAN and the Acupuncture Establishment. I put those imperfections aside for a while so I could focus on what CAN’s version of the SCREENS might be. I also chose to get perspective from some of the revolutionaries I appreciate.
Lisa recently mentioned St Francis in her “Finding Normal” series. If you want to talk about some oppressive structures, classism, and social injustice, St Francis’ seemed to be dealing with a few. Following his illumination, Francis sought to offer people an experience of worship vastly different from what was then the norm. He did not spend a moment opposing and resisting the existing systems or those representing those systems. He instead focused with passionate, single-minded intention on his ideal and vision…. refusing to be distracted by his many detractors.
In an attempt to control him or shut him down, The Pope– under the influence of his fearful advisors– went looking for Francis. The systems found him–he did not have to prod, provoke, or go looking for them. The Pope however, was so transformed by the purity of Francis’ heart and his desire to serve, he bowed to him, blessed his mission, and sent him on his way. The church Francis built attracted those who resonated with his ideal, philosophy and “style” of worship and over time, transformed the consciousness of the masses and many institutions.
At the risk of relying on a worn out role model, we could substitute Gandhi for St Francis in light of his successful direction of a huge impoverished population to manifest independence through the creation of their own sustainable cottage industries. He understood the futility of resisting and fighting the oppressive colonial structures of the British in any conventional way. The energy was directed at building economic independence so that the inevitable political independence would not flop.
Taking his lead from Krishna and Buddha, Gandhi asked each member of the movement not to entertain negative thoughts or actions that polluted that primary effort. He understood that the power of the movement had less to do with how many join but in the consciousness of those participating. He knew that, ‘One with God is a majority’ (does anyone know for sure who to credit this quote) ….or stated more universally to my liking…..one dedicated to cultivating impersonal, selfless, unconditional love. From my perspective, the dedication is the important part not how many times I miss the mark.
Francis and Gandhi understood that it was impossible to cultivate this pure love and hold on to any judgement.. Righteous indignation was for them a momentary stepping stone to propel people into action but a stumbling block if not left quickly behind. It is annoying when onlookers admonish us “don’t be so angry” because it does not honor the value of righteous indignation and our freedom to choose. However, I am not convinced that righteous indignation is where any movement can stay if it desires success above all else.
This was not some ungrounded, woo woo philosophy that Francis and Gandhi were advocating but tried and true practical spirituality in action. These were practical mystics who used these universal principles to most efficiently effect change in people’s consciousness and in the outer world. They saw clearly how reform works and how revolution fails. They could keep their eyes on the goal without defending themselves from, worrying about or pushing against what the “opposition” was doing or not doing.
They also had no interest in refuting critics. When Gandhi was frequently accused of changing the movement’s position, strategy, and focus without warning, he agreed that he was always expanding in understanding and valued flexibility above all else. After working many years in some rigid social work systems, this extreme flexibilty is a vital quality for me in any reform I am associated with.
So getting back to the SCREENS………..If CANs mission is “ to make acupuncture more affordable and accessible by promoting the practice of offering acupuncture in community settings…” then the orchestral world and the sages seem to agree that the only action needed from CAN is creating and supporting successful clinics. Over time, the millions of people who benefit from those clinics become CANs version of a SCREEN.
Those in the broken acu-establishment who are receptive to the experience of those millions will see their habitual bias and see new possibilities for the field….the others will not. As the yogic saying goes ‘ trying to change the ones who are not receptive is like trying to uncurl the pigs tail’.