corporate spokesman engaged in public relations whitewashing, or the polite sounding politicians working to regulate or even eliminate the practice of herbalism by the people of this country. ! On the other hand, there’s much to be said for the art of courteous discourse. Exchanges in person or in emails can address issues without projecting our personal issues, and minus unhelpful drama. •Punctuality & Follow Through ! There are few qualities of professionalism more useful than following through on commitments in a timely and punctual way, qualities that are sadly all too rare amongst us proud non-professionals. ! •Accountability & Responsibility ! Professionals are accountable to their peers, organizations and employers, but accountability is no less important for all of us needing an honest public measure of our accomplishments and mistakes, effects and results. When not mandated by rule or protocol, it becomes necessary that we volunteer our work for inspection, and take responsibility for both what we do and fail to do. Professionals or not, we need to learn to accept, assume and deepen responsibility for our choices, actions, and failures to act... defined in the Anima tradition as the practiced “ability to respond.” ! •Proficiency ! People sometimes use professionalism as a synonym for proficiency, though all can and likely should strive to be as proficient as possible at whatever we do, for the sake of excellency and effect regardless of the level or lack of expectations.
In The End Knowing whether or not we want to go the professional route can make a big difference in the realization of our most meaningful purpose and ideal role. And yet, devoted professionals and nonconforming non-professionals alike may be
attributing too much import and baggage to what is but a derivative term. If we look up the roots of the word “profession,” we see that it derives from the Latin “profiteri,” meaning only to “declare publicly,” from the notion of being “an occupation that one professes to be skilled at.” (Indeed, the expression “the oldest profession” didn’t arise because historic prostitutes formed professional associations that qualified and certified its members, but rather, because the not always unhappy practitioners professed to be sex workers... often loudly, in public spaces, and sometimes in the form of a most lovely song.) If we profess to be a plant healer, then, we are in the original sense already a professional herbalist... if always and forever a student with more left to learn! And no matter how many degrees or certificates we might earn, no matter how many accomplishments or awards or how professional our actions or demeanor, most of us will always sense ourselves as something more than simply professionals. Plants, the natural world and what they teach and give, are seldom experienced as just a profession by any of us. They are our interest and infatuation, our passion and obsession, our calling and service, our pleasure and delight. I’d go so far as to say most professional herbalists would be more chill about being referred to as amateurs, if they’d take a look at the roots of this word as well: Amateur, from the late 18th Century Italian amatore, from the Latin amator, from amare... yes, “to love”, it means the most extreme expression of our caring! Being paid or not isn’t really what distinguishes amateurs or adepts, it’s that they love what they do so much they’d do it regardless of income or lack of income, and whether or not they get permission, approval or acclaim. Hell, it’s actually true of most of the herbalists I have ever known, and all that are precious to me, from papered botanists, research scientists and herbalist guild leaders to undocumented curanderos, kitchen medicine makers, and anarchic plant providers working the streets: What they do – what we do – is rightly done out of love.