On my decision to pursue this work

I wrote this when I was 21, shortly after choosing to leave my first career in the Environmental movement.  It was published in a youth magazine; you can read the whole thing here (there's also a comedic piece I wrote called "Diversity Sucks").

I want to save the world. I’ve decided to become a doctor of Chinese Medicine. In this essay I’m going to attempt (that is what “essay” means, after all) to explain my perhaps puzzling decision.

My decision came from a progression of realizations.

Realization one: The world is in a pretty messy state right now. Some people just get this, some people just don’t. I’ve never really been able to figure out what the deciding factor is. Whatever you think, however, you’ll probably agree that...

Realization two: The primary influence on the state of the world is human civilization. We can alter the environment in pretty much anyway we want, and we’re energetically extremely influential, if you believe in that sort of thing. A lot of people stop here at realization two and start raging against The Machine. I was there for a while. It’s pretty disempowering and frightening, really, to imagine yourself up against some monolithic, ubiquitous, abstract monster of a system. There are so many manifestations to try to fight. After a while it just seems hopeless, but what else can you do? Well, I thought a little more and realized...

Realization three: The primary influence on human civilization is humans. This seems pretty freakin’ obvious but is very important and deserves thought. Humans build machines and set up systems in order to help them achieve their goals. It’s like the National Rifle Association says,

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Guns are a great way to do it, sure, but the guns themselves don’t really care what they happen to be pointing at. To further the analogy, if you snapped your fingers and made all the guns disappear, people would just build more, and they’d do it pretty quickly, and in the meantime they’d bonk each other with clubs. This would seem to indicate that...

Realization four: Most humans are in a pretty messy state right now. I used the analogy of brutish—“I’m going to get my way, and if you’re in the way of me getting my way I’m going to hurt you, and if my way itself ends up hurting you I really don’t care”—types of people. These types of folks seem to be in charge these days, but if the sullen, bitter, stagnant in a way—“everything sucks and everything’s really hard to do, and everything would be good if only we lived in an absolute utopia tomorrow or the day after at the latest, and did I mention that everything sucks?”—types of people that I often encountered in the protest movement and to a lesser extent in the social justice field somehow managed to work their way into running the show, we would be just as screwed as we are now. Differently screwed, but still pretty badly off.

So, it occurred to me that the only way to effect real positive change in the world is to heal people. Healthy, happy people would create healthy, happy systems and from these healthy, happy systems would spring a healthy, happy world. I think Lauryn Hill put it well when she said, “Love ourselves and we can’t fail to make a better situation.” It will take a long time, certainly, and there may not be enough time, but I don’t see how this can do anything but help.


I wrote that 9 years ago, and while I consider it somewhat unpolished and simplistic, the fundamental message remains absolutely true for me.  I consider my work as an acupuncturist to be a direct contribution to the healing of our society and our world, and this global consciousness is a major part of what fuels the passion I feel for my work.