A Lighthouse or a Flashlight

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We seem to have two very differing viewpoints within the straight chiropractic community. For the most part, we are in agreement as to what our objective is, i.e., to promote chiropractic as the correction of vertebral subluxations simply because they are detrimental to the inborn, intelligent expression of life. (Perhaps that is a new way of stating our objective. See Re-visiting Our Objectives.) The difference of opinion lies in how we go about promoting that objective to the chiropractic profession. Historically, the movement has taken what I call the lighthouse approach. We have been a strong, solid beacon of straight chiropractic, a light on a hill. We have said, “We will project the light and truth of straight chiropractic. The profession can chart its position by that fixed point.” It can use us as a guide to the safe harbor of a successful profession or it can ignore us, make its own way and run the risk of seeing the ship chiropractic end up on the shoals of historical oblivion. I truly believe that because of our immovable position, chiropractic is today closer to what it should be than if we were not there. Those traditional chiropractors, the middle-of-the-road types, who are being drawn into the medical model, have seen us as a standard for the last 25 years. Sometimes we have been an embarrassing conscience to them, reminding them of where they should be and the direction they should be going rather than allowing themselves to be carried by the winds of medicalization, to drift along in the current of popular trends and governmental and medical acceptance.

Our thinking has always been that we will be a small group but a strong one projecting a large bright light of philosophical truth. We will not, in fact we cannot, move. Our principle does not allow it. We will sit here and wait for chiropractors to come to us, to be drawn by the very fact that we are unmovable and clear on our professional objective, penetrating the darkness of confusion in the profession.

There is another viewpoint in the straight chiropractic community, a rather recent one: the flashlight groups’ argument is that we are not reaching enough of the profession, we have a limited exposure, that our message is so logical that if more could hear it, more would accept it. We have to carry our light to the four corners of the chiropractic profession. We must get out and shine it everywhere and if we do not, we will always be small, and most important, we will never impact the profession and the world with straight chiropractic. However, to some of them, carrying our light to the profession means associating with and dialoguing with those who see chiropractic quite differently than us, and even embracing some who see it only slightly different than us. Their position is that we must search out and meet people where they are, bring them in and help them change at their pace. The lighthouse group says that in doing that we give credibility to their approach, we acknowledge the validity of other approaches to chiropractic, and worst of all, we give credence to the idea that there are different gradations of straight chiropractic. The truth is that as far as true chiropractic is concerned, in our opinion, we are in the light and everyone else is in the dark. They maintain that to get together, to associate with and to sit down with the other approaches, diminishes our light. A flashlight can never be as bright as a lighthouse. The flashlight group counters that if our principle and philosophy is strong enough, we should welcome the opportunity to share it in a forum that includes the entire spectrum of chiropractic thinking. They argue that many straight chiropractors are involved with the rest of the profession in areas like being on state boards, being active members of less than straight state and local organizations and teaching at chiropractic colleges. Should not we all be similarly involved?

Lighthouse chiropractic has gotten us to where we are today. We are the only professional group that is both consistent with chiropractic’s historical roots and one that will not be drawn into medical oblivion. Both sides would agree with that. The flashlight group would also add that it has kept us as a small organization, unable to develop and carry out programs to promote straight chiropractic. The straight national organization with a history of more than 25 years, until recently, was still, more often than not, omitted when all national organizations were listed. To them not being mentioned with the others is an insult. To the lighthouse group it is, “So what, who wants to be listed in the same breath as those organizations anyhow.” Lighthouse chiropractors want to emphasize our difference from every other organization. Flashlight chiropractic wants to embrace those chiropractors who have the vertebral subluxation in common with us and then point out our differences. Lighthouse chiropractic maintains that every flashlight straight organization in history that has tried to embrace others has misplaced their light and become a non-straight organization. The flashlight chiropractors counter that no other previous organization has had a clear objective and a clear mission. They further argue that if we are maintaining the light of our objective we can take it anywhere. If we lose that light, well, a flashlight or lighthouse that has no light is equally worthless.

I suppose by now you as a reader are waiting for the wise old sage to tell you what we should do. If you are, you are confusing your Joes. I don’t have the answer. I have friends in the lighthouse and those carrying flashlights. I see both arguments. I am old enough to see the success, the safety and the wisdom of the lighthouse approach and young enough to want to see this movement grow larger than 1% of the profession. I don’t have the answers. But I believe as a movement we can come up with the answers as to whether we want to be a lighthouse or a flashlight. I further believe we need to sit down and start talking about the issue. At this time it has created a schism in the straight chiropractic community and heaven knows that as small as we are we do not need anything dividing us. The vast majority of chiropractors who ever were a part of the straight chiropractic community are no longer actively supporting it. It is not because the movement has changed any in the last 25 years. True, some of them have passed on. Others have lost their light. But I am sure others have gotten a clear impression we should be a lighthouse or a flashlight and we as a movement cannot decide. Let’s make up our mind and move on. V19n2

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