Let me begin by saying that I think there’s one thing
everyone on both sides of the FPD debate can agree about: Dae Jang Geum is a
totally awesome show.
If you’ve never seen it, allow me to wholeheartedly
recommend it.It has
something for everyone: stalwart heroines, poetry-writing soldiers,
comic relief, food-prep porn, fabulous period headgear, suspense, and moral lessons, not to mention acupuncture and herbs…
I just watched Episode 16* last night, in which our heroine,
Jang Geum, is once again banned from the royal kitchen; in this case, for being
too clever by half in her desire to win a competition (see Episode 15).She is sent to help care for the king’s mother’s old wetnurse, and
after a series of minor adventures has an opportunity to taste the food prepared by one of the local caretakers.This fellow’s main activity seems to be preserving foods by drying them: all episode he takes things out to dry in
the sun, and takes them in again at night and when the weather isn’t sunny.Jang Geum, who is a supertaster, is amazed
by the flavors of his food, the likes of which she has never had in the
Palace.She follows him around and begs
him to teach her his “tricks” – he insists that there is no trick. “How do you
dry them?” she persists, to which he replies with good-humored alacrity, “I
don’t dry them, the sun does!”Eventually, in the conclusion of the heartbreaking subplot about the
nurse, Jang Geum realizes that the simple, slow, sincere way can be more appropriate than the
clever, quick way.
It seems to me that much of the genius of acupuncture is
that it is relatively simple.Indeed, it is
also quick and clever, but even when acupuncture is employed, sustained healing is almost
always slow, simple, quiet.It’s like
going outside in the sun and inside at night, like using the sun when it’s out
and doing something else when it’s rainy.This morning, I read the latest on the FPD debate on the AIMC forum, about whether or not
it’s within California acupuncturists’ scope of practice to order lab tests.My feeling is, regardless: WHY?Since lab tests in no way contribute to an
acupuncture (or even herbal) diagnosis, why would we use them?Why would we make patients spend money on
them?How is learning someone else’s
job the way to get better at OUR job?The
push for the FPD, and the whole move towards more and more western med
“competencies” feels like an effort to prove how much more clever we can
be, when we already have a very clever technology to hand.MDs are already doing the things they do
(labs, imaging, etc.), and at fairly high expense; why in heaven’s name would we
want to duplicate that—especially when we have something wonderful, if simple,
to offer?What about the Taoist virtues
of modesty, simplicity, enoughness – those values that are so lacking in the
US, and for which there is so much hunger?
Please, let’s learn from our ancestor Dae Jang Geum: know the limits of cleverness and speed, and start to recognize and appreciate the deep
wisdom that our medicine already contains.
*start watching at about 2:50 (note: this YouTuber divides the episodes up differently than the DVD set I got from Netflix).