It should be first clarified that I am essentially a "straight" practitioner who views spinal adjusting as the single most important part of a chiropractor's practice.
We all recognize that there have been chiropractors within our ranks who have abandoned or looked away from their roots, and that this has caused resentment, distrust, and dichotomy among those who firmly held to their principles. The unfair AMA propaganda against chiropractic not only negatively impacted the public but also had its toll upon chiropractors. In reality, the real villain was the AMA.
Fortunately, the pendulum has been swinging the other way. The lawsuit provided a significant indictment of the AMA's policies and exonerated chiropractic. Also, respected studies of HMO's, workers' compensation records, internal and government studies, and hospital studies were attesting to the safety and superiority of chiropractic based on the chiropractic adjustment. Suddenly, spinal adjusting was becoming the hottest item in the health care field. It was providing chiropractors with a new-found pride and a unification behind their roots as never before in its history. The average chiropractor today has become more rationally "straight" than the ICA members of 10 years ago, so it was felt by many doctors that there was no longer a need for dichotomy in chiropractic. Merger talks began between ACA and ICA.
Unification could not come any too soon. All the other health care related professions that appreciated the value of spinal adjusting wanted a piece of it for themselves. While chiropractors do not have a proprietary or exclusive right to spinal adjusting, the need to act as a unified group to protect its integrity by urging all legislators that any persons wishing to manipulate the spine must go back to school and get an education equivalent to a chiropractor. We need to maintain high educational standards which we can point to with confidence and pride, such as the CCE. Otherwise, inferiorly trained persons will get in through the "back door" and prostitute spinal manipulation. Ironically, these same persons may function "within" hospitals as we find ourselves "outside" looking in as they do what we were ridiculed and condemned for doing not many years ago. They will contend that they are practicing "scientific" manipulation as we will be labeled "unscientific." The need for merger and nation-wide rallying of non-members is profound.
Although the majority of the ICA members voted for merger, it did not reach the necessary two-thirds vote, and the ICA leaders pronounced the issue dead. Unfortunately, the merger vote came during great misinformation and confusion on critical issues. Attempts were made to clarify the issues and take them to a democratic vote, except the ICA leaders wanted no part of it. In frustration, many of the top leaders left the ICA and made an impact with what was now becoming the new and greatly revamped ACA.
Meanwhile, I learned of a very disheartening development. A faction within the ICA had laid the ground work for a brand new organization which would spring up overnight had the merger vote been successful. If we disagree on issues we need to stay in and fight for them within one organization and not run away from them by forming new splinter groups. It solves nothing and only complicates matters for chiropractic.
I recall when I was canvassing some legislators in Washington, D.C., and being quite surprised at how few legislative aides actually ever heard of the ICA, let alone being influenced by it. Forming a new splinter group would move its members from an already small organization of little legislative influence to an even smaller one with no legislative influence. The entire conduct was obscene and almost suggested a "death wish" on the part of the participants. Besides, we are not trying to influence "international" or world legislators -- these are legislators for America.
As for the few extremists in our profession, they rely very heavily on "in-house" or intraprofessional propaganda for their support and provide virtually no real "out of house" impact or national influence. It is a tactical error to waste any time or money with such groups. They actually represent more of a threat than a contribution to chiropractic.
The chiropractic principle and philosophy, and the preservation of chiropractic as a separate and distinct profession, is in safe keeping within the ACA. However, if it should ever go astray or get out of line, we need the good and principled chiropractors within one organization to get it back in line. Staying in and fighting for our principles certainly beats "picking up our marbles" and running away or forming another organization.
These are changing and demanding times -- even perilous ones -- and we need to change with them for our survival. I firmly believe that the answer logically lies with supporting and strengthening ourselves within our largest democratically-run chiropractic organization -- the ACA.
Chester Wilk, D.C.
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