Capitalism, community acupuncture, and the radical nature of trust.

Everything about this clinic is based on trust. I trust my 2 sister acupunks. We are close friends as well as colleagues, privy to each others' heartaches, insecurities and recurring health issues. We trust each other to take good care of our patients – folks we care deeply for. I can do this job because I can say with perfect confidence “I'd like you to come in three times in the next week. We're open every day, and the other two practitioners are great. I get treatments from them all the time.” 

We trust a small army of volunteer receptionists to greet patients, explain our systems, and to count cash at the end of the night.

No, we've never worried about being ripped off.

We trust our patients to pencil themselves into the appointment book, decide where on the sliding scale they want to pay, drop payment into the mild little box on the wall. Our patients, in turn, trust us to put sharp bits of metal into their bodies. Then they trust each other enough to go to sleep. Let us notice that, specifically: strangers sleep next to each other in a storefront in an elderly building on one of the busier intersections in this city. I can do this job because I can set needles for someone in acute crisis and then roll away on the my wee red chair, trusting the other sleepers to hold them as softly as they need.These 8 recliners catch us, give us safe space to pause, speed us along to the next unraveling. This happens because we trust the process and each other.

Capitalism functions through division, suspicion, fear. We're supposed to hoard, not share. Not discover that together we are so much more than the sum of our parts, that by each giving some, we receive a lot. Of course Poke is still a business; if we weren't making money we wouldn't stay open.

(Although, in all seriousness, if I were independently wealthy I'd work my community acupuncture gigs for free and I strongly suspect the other two would too.)

But it challenges a powerful narrative in the dominant culture about humans: that we are by nature competitive, aggressive, that we need policing and laws and threat of punishment in order to be safe, that without being coerced, we will not behave “well.”Fuck that! I see people every day in pain, depressed, stressed out. We treat mental illness and intense physical pain alongside mundane strains and headcolds. When people arrive here they are often far from their “best,” but almost without exception they respect us, each other, and the space, and not because they have to. It's because they want to, because it comes naturally, because they crave the gentleness and ease of letting down their guard, because they are touched by the trust extended to them, no questions asked, as soon as they walk in the door.

I know what kind of world I want to live in. It includes ex-cops, prisons razed to the ground or converted to museums, less isolation, and trust becoming normalised. It includes us going to sleep together, waking up together, remembering that we need each other.

This story was posted on August 25 2011 by Lisa B..

Comments

  • August 25 2011 at 8:40 PM
    EricaL writes:

    Love this.  And yeah, fuck

    Love this.  And yeah, fuck that!!

      0 likes
  • August 27 2011 at 12:22 PM
    MMDobson writes:

    Every time I log in to CAN

    I look for some beautiful piece that you write.  It captures, so precisely and elegantly, how I feel most days, and gives so much beauty to it.  Even the “fuck that” is perfectly placed.

    So, yeah, fuck that.  And keep writing, Lisa.  Thank you.

    MM 

      0 likes
  • August 29 2011 at 10:59 AM
    Roppy writes:

    Beautiful narrative.  You

    Beautiful narrative.  You know you are doing it right when you go to work and you feel everthing that you just expressed.  

      0 likes
  • September 8 2011 at 1:21 PM
    lumiel writes:

    Today is my monthly Free Day.

    I am going to print this out and post it for everyone to read when they come in.

    In the last week, I had 5 people come in and sob through their treatments.  One of them came back after the weekend and said that somehow whenever she walks in, she feels like some kind of big “release”.  This is what you’re talking about, Lisa.  Thank you.

    Lumiel

    “Justice is what love looks like in public”  Cornel West

      0 likes
  • September 9 2011 at 10:10 PM
    Lisa B. writes:

    Thanks for telling me this

    Thanks for telling me this Lumiel!

      0 likes
  • September 11 2011 at 12:39 PM
    maceywebb writes:

    Just

    printed this out and put it in the lobby for people to read at their leaisure…

      0 likes
  • September 17 2011 at 10:13 AM
    ckstopford writes:

    Lisa, bravo.  We can still

    Lisa, bravo.  We can still make a living and not be part of a destructive ideology that defines success on the basis of others’ failure.  CA is a radical approach for radical thinkers.  I would be interested some time in a portrait of a single patient that took a while to come to trust the process, how that evolved.  People look at me with suspicion when I say “sliding scale” and “no verification” in the same sentence.  But it is all about trust and you’ve captured the essence of the magic of CA in this piece.  Thank you!

      0 likes
  • September 22 2011 at 4:14 PM
    Spartacus writes:

    .

    I really appreciated this blog post.  It’s like Anne Frank said, people are mostly good.  My clients are continually shocked when they’ve forgotten cash/checkbook/their card and I let them leave without paying and tell them to come back in whenever.  We need more ‘village’ and less disconnect in our nation today.  smile

      0 likes

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