Over the last several months, the COVID-19 pandemic has filled the airwaves while another, centuries-long pandemic—the pandemic of racism and hatred—has continued to tighten its grip on our nation, reminding us of the pervasive injustices and inequities that erode the well-being of our nation, our communities, and ourselves.
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shone a light on the multifaceted hatred that persists in our country. These wounds of racism are deep and continue to fester. It can’t take the continued loss of life to remind us that Black Lives Matter.
Like me, you may have watched the events of the last week and silently reflected on your own personal history and commitment to stand up to hatred and speak out against racism and been embarrassed by your lack of action. As a community of healers, we can and must do better.
Through functional medicine, we teach that disease is the absence of healthy processes—so too in society. We recognize hatred as the absence of love and healthy relationships, so what can we do with this understanding, and where do we start?
At the simplest of levels, this work starts with a commitment from each of us. While as individuals we enter this work with different experiences, I ask that you join me in truly committing to making meaningful, long-term contributions to change. I encourage you to be vulnerable, identify your own beliefs, challenge your own thinking, and restore balance to your individual character.
In return, I commit IFM to be a leader of change as well. Reaffirming IFM’s values to lead, collaborate, innovate, and inspire, we commit energy and our voice to eradicating conscious and unconscious bias, seeking more diverse leadership for IFM and the functional medicine field, and expanding the reach of functional medicine to the underserved.
As leaders of the functional medicine movement, we must require this change not only in ourselves but in our community. As healers, we give voice to the individual and change behavior through relationships—actions that are critically necessary to the change we seek to lead.
Together, we stand strong in our responsibility and commitment to this work.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of IFM and the Staff, thank you very much for your comments. We are reading and digesting each of them. Many of you have asked what do we plan to do next – you understandably want to see our plan. At this point, it would be disingenuous to say I or we have a plan mapped out and ready to go. However, we are building a plan and taking the following steps to hold ourselves accountable to this critically important work.
- Identification of an outside expert to support us in developing this work for IFM and the Functional Medicine field. We need the support of diversity and inclusion experts to make this work not simply a project but a way IFM conducts itself and leads the field.
- Creation of a group of IFM Team members that will work with the support of our outside experts to develop goals and initiatives for IFM and the field, identify how those goals will not only be met but embedded into the working of the organization and formalize the timeline and milestones we will use to hold ourselves accountable.
Finding ways to engage the field in the development of this plan is critical. We can’t do this work without you.
Yours in Service,