Merger Part II

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I guess the recent success in Michigan has emboldened the merger proponents to make the big leap or perhaps big push, to merge two national organizations. While the “demand” was made by COCSA, it probably reflects the thinking of many of the profession. Some chiropractors use the lack of a unified profession as the reason for not joining any national organization. (As a side note, I find it strange that a Congress of Chiropractic State Associations can have the audacity to demand something of two national associations. It just shows how aggressive and arrogant these people have become.)

As most chiropractors know, the ICA (International Chiropractors Association) issued a statement rejecting their demand. I found it very curious that in their official statement rejecting the demand, they never said what the “basic chiropractic philosophical tenets that ICA holds supreme and are not subject to compromise” are. They did emphasize their willingness to work together on issues of common interest. I thought the statement was pretty weak and an attempt to reject the idea of merger without offending anyone or spelling out their any differences which of course made me wonder whether there are differences or just people who do not want to give up their status.

God works in mysterious ways. At the recent Lyceum at Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic, who should sit down at my table at a social function but the president of the ICA. He is a likable fellow and did not seem to know who I was (perhaps that is why he seemed so likeable). I asked if he wanted just to make small talk or whether he was willing to discuss serious issues. He graciously agreed to answer my questions despite knowing he was in a hotbed of “super straights”. I asked him why he was against the merger. His answer had to do with how the ICA viewed the importance of correcting vertebral subluxations and that the ACA as an organization really did not embrace that model. He left me with the impression that the ACA does not see the correction of vertebral subluxation as important to the practice of chiropractic, the ICA does see it as important and we “super straights” see it as the be-all and end-all of the practice of chiropractic. He admitted he does other procedures of a diagnostic nature which I would probably not view as straight chiropractic. He was right!

I really appreciated his honesty and forthrightness. He also made me think about the issues. I have concluded that the real issue is about principle versus what is best for the chiropractor. If an organization exists for the purpose of protecting and perpetuating a principle, then there can only be unity based upon that principle. Decisions are made based upon what is best for the principle and the people it services. Those people are not chiropractors but rather the public in need of care. That being the case, you will have as many organizations as you have principles in need of protection and perpetuation.

On the other hand, if an organization exists for the purpose of benefiting its members and that is its principal purpose, then there is really no need for more than one organization. For the needs of every chiropractor are essentially the same; see people, make a living, protect the right to practice, and be successful. Some also need to know that they are performing a valuable service, that every human being needs, one that cannot be done by any other profession. Those chiropractors seem to be few and far between in our profession. They are the ones who are concerned about a principle.

Many in our profession are not able to comprehend that idea. They cannot understand that serving a principle can take precedence over personal success, however they define it. That kind of stuff is for the clergy and missionaries, not health-care professionals. It is for people who take a vow of poverty, not someone with student loans and a desire for status in their community, a big house and expensive cars.

I am not sure that any national or even state organization exists solely for the purpose of perpetuating a principle. Most are to protect the interests of the members. That is not a bad thing. In fact, that is the purpose of state and national trade organizations. It really comes down to what the interests of the members are. That’s the issue that should be discussed relative to any merger. If the issues are only of self-interest it may be more economical and advantageous to merge. But if there is really a difference between organizations, a difference that is obvious, that is significant, and one based on principle, then merger is out of the question. I think these differences need to be evident. I am not pretending to tell the ICA or anyone else how to run their organization. But I have a suggestion for all state and national organizations. If someone suggests or demands that you merge and you believe there are basic philosophical tenets that prevent such a merger, either there really are no differences or you apparently are not making those differences clearly known to the profession. If you were, no one would ever suggest merger, at least no one in their right mind or who was listening to what your organization was saying about their philosophical tenets. (To their credit, no one seems to ever suggest that the FSCO merge.) In either case, the suggestion of a merger should precipitate some serious self-reflection, something all of us as individuals and as organizations continually need. We need to look inward and ask ourselves whether we really are making known what we stand for. If we all are clearly elucidating our position, maybe we could waste less time and energy on the silly idea of mergers and just continue to work together on issues of common interest, if there are any.

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