Public Image and the Dixie Chicks

What kind of public image do we want to have as community
acupuncture practitioners? Do we want one? Do we care? Is there a way to
project some type of cohesive identity as CAN grows? Do some people have to
keep their opinions to themselves to protect us from making a “bad” impression?

The recent controversy / discussion about the CAN blog being
censored or moved has made me think of the Dixie Chicks. I saw a documentary movie
about them recently, called Shut Up and
. For those of you not familiar, the Dixie Chicks are a female country
music band – there are three of them, two of them are sisters. In 2003, The
Dixie Chicks were at the top of their game being one of the most successful
bands of all time. Huge album sales, frequent radio play, corporate sponsorship
for their tour, sold out shows all around, the works. They were touring in Europe
when the Iraq War started, playing in London,
where the anti-war protests were the biggest they have ever been. During a
performance, the lead singer, Natalie Maines expressed her anti-war solidarity
with the audience and made an off the cuff comment that she was ashamed that US
President George W. Bush was, like herself, from Texas. The response to this
statement was a firestorm of organized and personal right wing attacks against
the Chicks for expressing a negative
personal opinion about the President. People boycotted their shows and burned
their CDs in organized protest. Lipton Tea Corporation pulled their tour
sponsorship and country radio stations that are known for more conservative
audiences refused to pay their music. They got death threats. There were
hearings about media censorship and freedom of speech. These very mainstream popular musicians
really stirred up something powerful without ever intending to do so – Natalie was just playing to her audience. The film
covers the band’s effort to ride out the turmoil, figure out where they stand
publicly on the issues the comment brought to the forefront, and to save their careers. There are many scenes of them arguing with
their manager and each other about how to present themselves publicly and what
they believe in. I found these scenes most interesting because you really get
to see them get caught in the rush of idealism and witness their personal growth
and transformation in the making. In the end they took nothing that was said back.
In fact, they decided to own the sentiment expressed by Natalie’s comment more, and it
really opened the gates for them to just say what they were thinking. Initially
this whole thing left the band’s career under a cloud, but eventually it lead
them to realize they actually had something powerful to say with their music
and to grow tremendously as artists. They decided to bow to to noone. Their 2006 album is
edgy, opinionated, angry and good. Oh yeah, it also won Album of the Year Grammy in 2007. On their return to London
after the 2006 album release, Natalie repeated her comment about Bush, this
time with a lot of intention behind it to a loud applause. Their audiences are
different now but even more loyal and devoted. They also clearly grew closer to
each other as they kept their band together and stood by each other.

I really liked that story, and it keeps coming back to me as
I think about the community acupuncture movement, CAN and its mission. I think
we could learn some things from what happened to the Dixie Chicks. It’s good to
shake things up – you might get burned in the short term, but in the long term
it might bring growth and deeper sense of purpose. It’s good to question status
quo, even if you risk putting off some people who like a very solid chunk of
ground under their feet. It’s also good to question your own intentions. I was
never comfortable with the public image I was encouraged to project in
acupuncture school, so I feel really cautious about anyone trying to define /
limit it for me or for my fellow acupuncture practitioners. There are now so
many different personalities on CAN, so naturally there will be lots of
opinions about what is ok to do and say and what is not. This is a great thing
to have happen in a sleepy complacent profession such as ours. CAN is so young,
it is still figuring out its purpose, I think we need to go for the stretch and
fearlessly give it lots of space to do so. We will miss out on some
growth and the the success of Community Acupuncture practice model will be
stunted if we hold on too tight.

Well I fought with a stranger and I met myself

I opened my mouth and I heard myself

It gets pretty lonely when you show yourself

Guess I could have made it easier on myself

But I could never follow

-from The Long Way Around by The Dixie Chicks

Author: tatyana

<p> I grew up in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States as a teen, living in New York and Chicago before moving to the Bay Area in 1998. I began as a Yoga instructor and as a practitioner of Ohashiatsu bodywork and have been practicing Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine since 2003. Before switching to community acupuncture practice model I had a sporadic and struggling private practice, worked as an herbal pharmacist, as an instructor and clinical supervisor at an acupuncture school, plus did a two-year stint doing acupuncture at a public health clinic, working with mostly HIV/HCV+ populations in San Francisco. </p> <p> My discovery of Community Acupuncture practice model (via Lisa Rohleder's Acupuncture Today columns) profoundly transformed my life -- not just my work life but many other aspects of it. I gained a vocation, a community of friends and the most stable and rewarding job I have ever had. I see community acupuncture practice model as the most sustainable and most fitting to my values. It makes sense to me from the point of view of healthcare access, social justice, spirituality, and as an antidote to isolation. In 2008, together with another stellar acupunk Pam Chang I...

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  1. Thank you for this

    It helps me center back to what our mission is and who we are in business for – our patients.  We won’t serve them if we give in to fear of rocking the boat.

  2. Wouldn’t it be amazing and world-transforming

    if a significant part of humanity decided to buck the current and stand up for their truth?  It’s not going to happen until CAN and others take up the banner and keep it flying. 

  3. En Garde!

    Great post Tatyana. I agree the world could use some shaking  and waking up. CAN’s mission statement seems like a pretty good public image…making acupuncture more affordable and accessible.

    As to how each individual CAN practitioner chooses to express themselves via that statement, there will obviously be wide variances. Some might interpret it narrowly – in a very business/professional context.

    Others will interpret and express that statement to encompass their world view on social justice and engaged spirituality.

    There is no single right way, and freedom of expression allows for a rich mingling and cross fertilization of ideas.

    That said, perhaps we all learned something from our recent censorship debate.

    I think we need to be careful how we express our rebellion against the status quo, being careful not to bring individual human beings into the cross hairs of our righteous anger. Let us instead, target evil actions and attitudes which perpetuate injustice. The CAN blog is an appropriate arena for this needling (miniature sword fighting?)….Any artists out there want to take a stab at a new idea for a CAN logo…a picture of Robin Hood holding an acupuncture needle in a fencing pose.