LIFE, LIBERTY, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS – UNDER AUTHORITY

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There are many chiropractic applications to history, particularly the history of this country. The founders of this republic began an experiment over 200 years ago based upon the premise that man wanted, above all things, freedom. Freedom to live his life as he saw fit and to pursue those things which he felt would bring happiness. However, over this principle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they placed an umbrella of authority and called it the United States Constitution. They understood a very important principle: freedom without authority is anarchy. Conversely, authority without freedom is tyranny.
The American colonies were themselves the example. Those who desire freedom must recognize some authority or within a short time freedom becomes “every man for himself” and ultimately anarchy. Then all freedom is lost. Usually before that happens a strong individual comes forth, takes control, and restores order. Unfortunately, often that person, while restoring order, tends to become the tyrant and limits or slowly destroys freedom. Napoleon, while putting an end to the anarchy of the French Revolution, assumed the power of a dictator.
The “American experiment” has worked because of the recognition of the importance of human freedom and the necessity for authority. All government in America (federal, state, and local) derives its power and its right to govern from that authority.
The chiropractic profession is in a unique period of its history. Chiropractors have fought for the freedom to practice chiropractic without the restraints of a medical establishment. Laws have been passed giving us the freedom we desired. We have even attained a certain degree of “equality” (see the article, “Freedom and Equality”). Our freedom at this point borders on anarchy. We have no authority on the practice of chiropractic. Granted we have 50 states with 50 different definitions and scope of practice but that merely adds to the confusion. The colleges cannot agree nor can the national organizations. There are those who feel that the state statutes are sufficient. Yet, even though our states retain the right to govern themselves and make their own laws, there is still a judicial system that is charged with the responsibility to see that those laws do not conflict with the authority of the land, the Constitution. We have no overriding authority in chiropractic.
The dissimilarities between the French Revolution and the American War for Independence are intriguing with regard to our chiropractic profession. In both cases tyrannical rule was overthrown. But, in the case of the French it was done with no regard for authority of any kind. The consequences were the guillotine, the Jacobins, and atrocities against thousands of innocent men, women, and children who committed no crime. In contrast, the respect for authority and the orderly establishment of that authority that characterized the beginning of the United States has led to the stability and domestic tranquillity that has lasted (except for a four year period) for 200 years. Since the passing of the Palmers and the demise of Palmer College as the “Fountainhead,” chiropractic has had no authority. The green books are looked upon with ridicule or as archaic, irrelevant texts. Consequently “every man does what is right in his own eyes” and anarchy reigns.
Our profession is in a very difficult situation. Chiropractors tend to be anti-establishment types who find it easy to reject authority. However, authority eventually comes. It comes, whether peaceful by “Constitutional Convention” or by Napoleon firing cannons into the mobs. We as a profession must choose. We can continue in our anarchical ways and wait for the federal government, the insurance companies, or someone else to assume tyrannical power. Or we can recognize the need for a seat of authority and go about establishing it. The two (now three) national organizations have for years been attempting either independently or together to establish a definition and scope of practice. They have, needless to say, been unsuccessful. Perhaps we need to go back a step.
We need to establish an authority that every chiropractor will recognize. That may be an impossible order but nothing else has worked since 1895. It is the only way in which all chiropractors can have the freedom to practice chiropractic. At this point in time the “straights” are in the minority and the “mixers” have the power. The “straights” are crying for the freedom to practice their scope of chiropractic and to be left alone. The “mixers” see the “straights” as a threat to society (they don’t diagnose). I am sure that if the “straights” were “in power,” they would try to control the practice of the “mixers.” After all, they also view the “mixer” as a threat to society (they utilize procedures they are not qualified to do). The power struggle will continue endlessly until we all subject ourselves willingly to a common authority. In this country we have authority vested in the U.S. Constitution and the “nine old persons” whose job it is to interpret it. Frankly, I think many of their decisions and interpretations are ridiculous but I agree to abide by them as a citizen of the United States. Anything else would be lawlessness and anarchy. This profession as a whole had better begin to recognize an authority to which every chiropractor would subject himself or herself. If not, the profession has not a chance of reaching its potential in serving humanity or enjoying any semblance of freedom in the future.
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