Straddling The Fence

In many ways, I suppose I'm a fence-sitter. I'm the last person you would want to debate with about politics, religion, or parenting-I'm that person who always tends to take both sides of an argument. I have absolutely no problem with simply saying, "I don't know enough about this topic to argue about it," and leaving it at that. I feel no shame in admitting ignorance; it's better than arguing a point that makes no sense to me. People in my field tend to be passionate about a lot of topics. Most acupuncturists harbor strong feelings about things such as organic produce, breastfeeding, and vaccines. Me? Well, I just can't work myself up into a burning passion about topics that have so many valient points on each side. Should we all be eating organic? Sure, if we can afford it...but most people can't. As far as breastfeeding, if you have the time and ability, that's great. If not, you shouldn't have to be harangued by other women about depriving your child. Your kid, your choice. And don't even get me started on the vaccine issue-my personal list of pros and cons on both sides is as long as a Stephen King novel.

For years, there has been a line between those of us in the natural health profession, and doctors. Patients tended to chose one path or another; either they were against Western medicine and turned to alternative medicine as their sole form of healthcare, or they would embrace Western medicine and never even consider acupuncture as an option. In our defense, we have always known that alternative medicine is best practiced as complimentary medicine. In an ideal world, Western docs and acupuncturists would work together in peace and harmony, collaborating to assist patients in their road to a healthy body, mind, and spirit. But seriously, this is the real world. People dismiss things they don't understand, and there are few things in life less easy to understand than acupuncture. In the eyes of doctors, we were kooky hippies full of soon-to-be-broken promises. From our standpoint, doctors were closed-minded and money-hungry, handing out drugs like candy and completely lacking any vision of the big picture.

And today? Well, things are changing. Lots of Western docs are realizing that we can work together to create a cohesive whole. They are referring out to us more and more, and some are even taking classes to incorporate acupuncture into their own practices. We are finally getting acknowledgment; in return, we need to give some of our own.

Doctors are not the enemy. Western medicine is not the enemy. Since we spent so many years trying to attain legitimacy in this field, we should have learned a long time ago not to be so judgemental. Most of my cohorts are the most wonderful, open-minded, non-judgemental people I have had the privilege to meet-but there are still those out there who are setting the rest of us back with their scorn of Western medicine.

Natural medicine has its place, and it can sometimes work miracles. However, if I ever find a lump in my breast, I'm not heading to my acupuncturist. There are actually irresponsible acupuncturists out there who insist that they can cure cancer, and these people should be stripped of their licenses. Acupuncture is very helpful as an additional therapy in cancer patients, but to state that acupuncture can cure cancer is morally reprehensible. It sickens me even more that these patients are in the most vulnerable position of their lives, and these charlatans are taking advantage.

Too many people I know feel the need to create sides, in a battle that doesn't even exist. Why can't we simply work together, and appreciate how far we have come? We have been struggling to be accepted in the world of Western medicine for such a long time-I would hate to see us set back by a few bad apples who can't play well with others.