Fantastic, must read blog post from Leah Dean at F.E.A.S.T. today. She says what many of us think and believe, expressed beautifully!
Same Brain: Different Operating System
On a personal note, I've been disturbed, myself, to see conflict inside the ED world of a kind I never thought I'd see. People with many of the same beliefs I have about evidence and science and parent involvement are forming their own groups and factions and running into many of the same obstacles and road blocks I know well. These informal groups are not always operating with the accountability and civility that I feel is so important. They are not always taking the time to understand the history or to know who has done or is doing what. Some individuals are making demands without having earned trust, confusing informal lists of people with accountable organizations, personalizing their critiques and making the issues into conflicts between people and not ideas, calling out organizations and individuals in the field instead of recognizing them as allies.
Also worrying is the resurgence of parent-led advocacy that repeats history by promoting ideas about parents and eating disorders that are not evidence-based and not parent empowering. Factions and fights and splitting are abundant. And people are confused.
I'm seeing people be exiled and shunned and pathologized. This is not the way I operate or recommend that others do either.
I know the temptation of throwing bombs. I've thrown some myself. They always land in my lap because I didn't recognize that change in the ED family comes through persuasion and trust, not being "right." I had a lot of "shoulds" in my head: people SHOULD understand, SHOULD behave differently, SHOULD have courage, SHOULD operate logically, and SHOULD trust me. Didn't work.
We are a family whether we like it or not. If you make an enemy in this world its a small room, and there's no room in here to stalk off and sulk. If we as an individual don't gain the trust of others we don't get very far and we often hurt our allies and the ideas we hold dear. You may be right, and you may not be the person you're accused of being but if the perception is there you aren't going to be effective until it is repaired. If you are associated with someone who has, rightly or wrongly, gotten a bad reputation or scared people, you carry that burden and have to fix that first. It "shouldn't" be that way, of course. People should do the "right" thing and they should believe the science as we know it. But, we're not there. And we're not going to get there as individuals or even as single groups.
The way forward, I find, is in accountable advocacy. F.E.A.S.T. started with just a handful of people, as Leah Dean describes so well, who built the scaffolding and accountability for the principles and beliefs we hold dear. It built a structure for present and future parent advocates and those who care about parents and science to do effective advocacy, to have a collective voice. An accountable voice. As individual members of F.E.A.S.T. each of us has a single voice but by supporting the organization's work we speak as a group.
You can be part of that voice, or you can distract from that voice.
Accountable advocacy is a team sport. It isn't as immediately satisfying as an angry tweet, or intimidating someone who disagrees with you. It isn't as visible, often: building relationships and real conversations are not showy. And it doesn't always feed your ego and make you well "liked" on Facebook.
Much of the very personalized infighting I see going on at the moment is about individuals, not ideas. I support F.E.A.S.T. because it keeps all our egos in check and is about more than any one of us or any informal group of us. But it also depends on the families it supports to support it through joining, volunteering, donating, and sharing it with others.
I don't want to hurt those in the field with whom I disagree. I want to persuade them, and learn alongside them, and succeed together in our common goal: better ED treatment. That doesn't mean not having or stating or pressing my points. It means doing so in a way that acknowledges our common goals and humanity. It means listening as much as talking. It means establishing trust, which can't be forced or demanded. Too small a room, and too fractured and embattled from the outside. We're a family and have to pull together and resolve our disagreements if we want to have a clear voice to the public and to policy makers and the media. We have disagreement and that's okay. Resolving them is what we need to do, not "win" or prove others wrong.
We're getting closer. Let's "keep going."