What does it mean to be a good herbal citizen? Does it mean that we are all love and light? Does it mean we never disagree or debate? Oh heck no. That’s just repression. But it does mean that we try our best to show each other the basic respect that all humans deserve.
It means we always share our stories with an eye to others’ privacy. It means we maintain our own and respect others’ boundaries.
It means we keep racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, body-shaming and other outright harm out of our safe spaces.
And it means we learn to give and receive critique properly.
If we see another herbalist make a mistake-whether it be, for example, a spelling or grammatical error, a mis-identification, a health claim we disagree with or an incorrect citation we can approach them privately, in person, via phone or e-mail, and discuss it.
And that is before we write a blog, make a Facebook post or tell all of our friends about it.
Because finding other people’s mistakes is not an opportunity to prove how smart we are, how right we are, how cool we are.
They’re just that–mistakes.
And they are an opportunity– to create mutual aid, to help someone who needs it, to shape our community and our future.
True leaders in the herbal community do not need to harm others to get ahead but use their example, their influence and their–dare I say it–LOVE to show how it’s done, not their cheap shots and low blows.
We are all fellow workers, we are all on this ship together.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves.
And is there ever a time for debate, critique, even anger within the herbalist community? Sure. It ain’t all sunshine and Basil. But direct that critique, think it through, make it count. Keep it honest, keep it fair.
And when you make your own mistake, as I certainly have, when the critique comes down on you, you can hold your head up knowing that you tried your best, and maybe they’re right or maybe they’re wrong, but you’ll get the opportunity to change, too.