Editor's note : The following article is written in the form of a film or television screenplay.
VOICEOVER: Attention. We're interrupting your regularly scheduled program, "Terrorist Whales From Outer Space III," to bring you this breaking news from the White House.
[CUT TO DASHING YOUNG MAN BEHIND PODIUM WITH PRESIDENTIAL SEAL, SCREEN SHOWS HIS NAME AS BRIAN CARTER, LAc, MS.]
BRIAN CARTER: Good evening, United States citizens, members of the press, and Acupuncture Today readers. Thank you for coming on such short notice and giving me your full attention.
As you've probably heard, the president has just named me the new surgeon general of United States. I want to assure you that the previous surgeon general is OK. I am not replacing him because any harm has come to him, but because the president has always been impressed with my Web site,1 and since I made the recent announcement that my first book2 will be out before the end of 2004, he's determined that I should be in the position. This isn't to slight the previous surgeon general; in fact, he agrees, and both of them wanted to give me time to get situated here before the new term begins in 2005.
For those of you who haven't made it to my Web site yet, let me introduce myself. I am a 30-something licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, medical professor, prolific writer, and published author read by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. I'm a husband, public speaker, friend, Christian, avid reader, rock climber, music lover, and basketball nut. And I'm proud to be an American.
Let me just make a few more remarks, and then we'll open it up for questions.
What can I do for the American people as surgeon general? I can help you use Chinese medicine, a powerful healing system virtually untapped here in the West. One of my book's proofreaders had an "a-ha" moment and overcome her longstanding health problems before it was even published! Some of you will revolutionize your health and your life, increase your life potential, boost your energy, feel better, sleep better, experience more joy and peace ... but everyone is different, and Chinese medicine is set up to deal with that. It meets you where you are, and takes you somewhere better.
How do I see the health problems of the United States? Our health care situation is grim. We have barely adequate medical care in which we don't receive enough attention from physicians, some of whom are unable to care about their patients. We have few real leaders and many divergent opinions. Patients often end up taking the advice of a friend or neighbor, who doesn't have any formal medical training.
The health care industry is dominated by a pharmaceutical paradigm in which doctors have only time enough to prescribe a new drug that fits the symptoms; where simple problems are ignored or mistreated and become complicated long-term diseases; and where people with complicated diseases fall through the cracks or are given the referral runaround. Those who aren't sick aren't aware of the severity of this problem. By the time they get stuck in this cycle, a medical problem compounds their already arduous daily grind. They have no time, no energy, and no avenues for changing the system.
Politicians focus on the number of people without insurance, but not insured people who are underserved. HMOs have been slow to reward preventive care. Conventional Western medicine has been so disease-focused that they don't have good evidence on prevention, and they're cynical about your ability to do the right things for yourself.
Let me, for a minute, speak to my typical reader, who is like many of you watching this press conference on TV. You have at least one emotional, mental or physical problem. You have too much to deal with in a day, and little time to do more than take what your doctor prescribes you or what you can find at the drugstore.
Like me, you sometimes eat unhealthily, excusing your cravings or sloth with the stress of your daily life. Your doctor doesn't have the time or training to give you any better healing or preventive solutions. You're skeptical about information that doesn't come from a national organization, trusted news source or MD. Like me, you have difficulty acquiring good habits and find it too easy to lose them.
But you'll read a book about them, and you might take advantage of some of the other things I'm working on to help you improve your life. Together, we can make a significant, permanent change.
OK, let's open it up for questions.
VOICE OF REPORTER #1: Why should we be excited about you and your vision?
BRIAN CARTER: Not only can you heal yourself, feel better, and increase the potential of your time here on earth, but you become the agent of action. Instead of depending on a drug or something someone else does to you, you can become independent and more powerful yourself - better at understanding and helping yourself.
VOICE OF REPORTER #2: What are your goals? Where are you headed; what's your vision?
BRIAN CARTER: I want to make this 2,000-year-old medicine easier to understand and use for regular folks like you in this 21st century. I want to separate fantasies and maybes from more certain helpful truths. I want you to enjoy reading my books, to get enthusiastic, and to improve yourself. I want to help you discover and overcome your own road blocks to wellness and vitality. I want to meet you, get to know you, work with you, and laugh with you.
VOICE OF REPORTER #3: Why should we respect your opinions?
BRIAN CARTER: I practice the medicine I teach. I have a Master's of Science degree and high standards. I've learned from and talked to experts in just about every nook and cranny of Chinese medicine. I always look for the truth, consult the experts, check the research, and then bring you the best answers I find. I'm honest. I don't pretend to be perfect. I tell you which health habits I'm still working on. I don't need to be a big health guru to feel good about myself.
And I respect you. I take my explicit and implicit agreements with you seriously - I show up and meet my responsibilities. I want to give you something substantial and worth way more than what you pay for it. I make information and tools available to you, but it's up to you to learn and use them. It's your life.
VOICE OF REPORTER #4: Why should we trust you?
BRIAN CARTER: I'm not just out to make a buck. I'm honest, sincere, and I walk my talk. My primary goal is to help you, and my main fear is doing something selfish without realizing it.
If I ever put myself ahead of you and God, I've failed my personal mission. What's life for if not to learn, grow, help, and serve? I am deeply opposed to self-seeking, sloth and greed. Yet I am imperfect ... so all I can promise is my best, which I hope is pretty good.
VOICE OF REPORTER #5: Why should we like you?
BRIAN CARTER: I'm smart, honest, and ha-ha-hee-hee-hilarious. I take helping you seriously, but I don't take myself too seriously - most of the time.
VOICE OF REPORTER #6: Are you for real?
BRIAN CARTER: Yes, ma'am. I am.
VOICE OF REPORTER #7: How are you going to make all this happen? What are you doing besides the book?
BRIAN CARTER: I have more books planned, but first I want to promote this one and support the readers.
I'm going to put some of the book's health quizzes on the Web site. You'll be able to find out how well you score on well-being, energy, sleep, and so on before you even buy the book. And after you improve your habits, you can go back and get your new score. I'll also be updating my herbal Web site3 to make available the herbs I recommend. This is not so much to make a buck (because running that herb company isn't easy!) but because there aren't many other good reliable companies out there to help you with Chinese herbs. And I'll make it possible to have discussions online about the book.
I'm going to expand my audience by writing articles for popular magazines, and speaking to San Diego and Orange County Toastmaster and Rotary groups.
I'm going to create a companion workbook for my new book, and I'll use that to do teleseminars. If you're not familiar with teleseminars, you rent an inexpensive group phone line, and people pay their own long distance charge to call in and listen to your seminar. I'll record those while I do them, then make the MP3 files available for sale and download.
Once all that's running, as I have time, I'll move into writing my follow-up books.
VOICE OF REPORTER #8: Why should we support you?
BRIAN CARTER: If you agree with any of my goals, and if you like my vision, then we can achieve more together than we can alone. In fact, alone we may accomplish nothing. All of my plans, the road I'm walking, depend on the success of my current effort - so, for example, when you buy my first book, you make the second one happen sooner.
Well, if there are no further questions, once again, thanks for coming on such short notice. I'll be fully instated as surgeon general soon, and my book should be available in November, in plenty of time for your December gift lists. And, of course, you can always reach me or find out more at my Web site.
Click here for previous articles by Brian Carter, MSCi, LAc.