COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

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The following is an excerpt from a recent address given to the graduates of a chiropractic college on the day of their commencement.
“During the past two decades we have seen some pretty dramatic changes in college and professional school graduates. In the late 60’s and early 70’s college graduates were out to “change the world.” No one needed to tell them that the world needed changing. It was in a pretty sorry state.
This attitude even pervaded the graduates of chiropractic colleges during that period. The graduates were challenged at commencements like this one to take the chiropractic principle and with it go out and change the world. They were told to change the world’s attitude toward health and toward chiropractic. They were encouraged to go out and change the status of chiropractic in their community. Some were even told that, if they adjusted enough people, the world would be a better, happier more peaceful place. The slogans were “If you’re not out to change the world everything else is Mickey Mouse” and “Chiropractic today for a better world tomorrow.”
Then in the late 70’s and early 80’s something changed. It wasn’t the world. Rather, those that wanted to change the world changed and that was reflected in the thinking and the objectives of those sitting in caps and gowns in the nation’s colleges. Perhaps those that wanted to change the world saw that some changes that were made were not for the better. Vietnam did not get any better when we left. Perhaps they saw the leaders of the “change the world generation” selling cookbooks and exercise videotapes. Or perhaps they saw the results of those who wanted to change the world in the jungles of Guyana or Osage Avenue in Philadelphia. Whatever the reason the “hippy generation” became the “yuppie generation.” Instead of changing the world, the college graduate just wanted to improve his or her own environment. “Looking out for number one” became that generation’s rallying cry. This attitude pervaded the professions, including chiropractic. The professions became a big business. Service to others was replaced by self service. The professional was replaced by the professional corporation. It was no longer “How many people can I help?” but “How much can I make?” Idealism was replaced by materialism.
It is customary to challenge you as graduates on this day. I could challenge you with the challenge of the 60’s and early 70’s to go out and change the world. That would be rather ludicrous in light of what I have just said. I could challenge you with the current challenge, that is, to go out and become financially independent and build wealth. You can do that in this profession in a relatively short period of time. What then? The motivation would be gone. Going through the motions without motivation is not very rewarding.
I could challenge you with becoming the best technician possible, however, technical proficiency is an obligation and a responsibility, not an option. Besides, as important as technic is, the reality of what you do lies in the principles and the philosophy that you have been taught. Reality resides in your thinking. Without reality, technic is just going through the motions. Going through the motions without reality is not very rewarding. What is the challenge, then as we begin a new generation of chiropractic graduates?
The problem we face, as is often the case in our profession, is that we have misinterpreted our philosophy. It is not our responsibility to change the world anymore than it is our job to change the blood pressure, the heart rate or any other bodily function. Chiropractic does not deal with the world but with the individual. Your responsibility entails: 1. Recognizing that every person has individual needs but all are in need of your service. 2. Recognizing that every person has different potential for better health but all have some degree of potential. Each of you has the potential to enable people to change from within. That’s something, something important, perhaps more important than the ability of anyone else.
The challenge for you is to go out and enable people to express a little more of the intelligence within their bodies so thousands of them can better contribute to society. Go out and adjust thousands of little children so they can grow up to be healthier, more productive members of the community.
I can think of no more worthwhile professional challenge. I can think of no more rewarding challenge in the field today and I can think of no group more capable of meeting that challenge than you people sitting here today.”
V2n3

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