The Code of Honor

The New Renaissance

Everybody has heard about the Code of Honor, but what exactly is it? Loosely defined, it’s the standards in which you live your life. Everyone has one, but they vary immensely from person to person. Certainly hard to explain, but when you’re in the presence of a person with a highly developed Code of Honor, you’re in good hands. There is a sort of old fashioned “you’re in their command” feeling when around them. You will not be taken advantage of and whatever they are helping you achieve, you will achieve it.

I don’t usually read books on the NY Times bestseller list, however Lone Survivor made it onto my reading list. Lifetime learning, reading and experiencing are the hallmarks of high achieving warriors. Don’t worry parents, finding time to read with young kids is especially tough, but when they’re grown, four to five novels or biographies a week is very doable.

Lone Survivor has been out since 2012 and the movie has been in theaters and on Netflix for some time, yet it continues to be a success because it strikes a chord in the hearts of Americans. It makes a “spiritual” connection with those who you wouldn’t necessarily think would be into war stories. It’s more than just mere entertainment, it asks you to reflect on your own life. What would you do in similar circumstances? It asks those provocative questions that many Monday morning quarterbacks answer with great enthusiasm and convincing words. Problem is, there’s nothing behind those words. The reality is that most of us, sadly, would not measure up. But now, we have a higher standard in which to aim our sights toward.


The twist: the Code of Honor that binds the two most unlikely people together

In 2005, a four man US Navy SEAL recon team has a mission in Afghanistan that has been compromised by goat herders. Here is the ethical dilemma: if you kill unarmed civilians who have nothing to do with Taliban forces, you go against the US Code of Honor. If you spare their lives and let them go, they will rat you out and you will die. What would you do?Upon releasing the goat herders, the Taliban was informed of the Americans’ whereabouts and within the hour the four team members found themselves face to face with and heavily outnumbered by the Taliban. The team members fought valiantly, but three of the four died, leaving only Marcus Luttrell as the “Lone Survivor”.

Marcus Luttrell survived, though with a broken spine, along with bullet and shrapnel wounds, only because of a centuries old tribal Code of Honor called Pashtunwali. This mandates that Pashtuns (tribal members) afford protection to anyone in need. The Lone Survivor was found by a Pashtun village elder named Mohammed Gulab, who took him in, hid him from the Taliban, had his wounds tended to, and made sure he was fed and clothed. He risked not only his life, but his family’s, and his whole village as well. The tribal code of honor transcended armies, religion, and politics.  

When the Taliban hunted the “Lone Survivor” by his blood trail to the village, they demanded that he hand over the American. Gulab refused. The Taliban–which doesn’t take no for an answer and has no Code of Honor–persisted, alternating between promises of money and threats to murder him, his family and the rest of the villagers. None of it changed Gulab’s mind. He and his neighbors would protect him from harm to the last bullet, even if it cost them their lives. Gulab ignored these threats for a complete stranger. That’s quite a Code of Honor.  

Did you know that part of the Navy Seals mantra is, “my loyalty to country and team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans. I do not advertise the nature of my work nor seek recognition for my action”?They do a lot of dirty work so we can enjoy our freedom. However, we sometimes forget that we did not invent the Code of Honor. In fact, it stretches back thousands of years and is not confined to one group of people. It’s a universal code, but is not adopted by the masses–too hard, too many temptations, too many shortcuts. Many people do not know about this deep, Muslim Code of Honor. How could two dissimilar people be united by such a Code? It’s because their differences did not matter; it was their similar beliefs about humanity that brought them together.

I couldn’t help but think of the Code of Honor and its presence–and absence–in Chiropractic. Such a focus is made in SEAL training about TEAM, TEAM, TEAM. They celebrate their brotherhood. The individual is not celebrated, it’s the team. Many DCs lose this concept and concentrate on their own concerns instead of celebrating the bigger picture…CHIROPRACTIC. When you love Chiropractic, everyone wins. You win, your practice members win, and the world wins.  

If you’re a SEAL, past, present or future, you’re in the brotherhood, no questions asked. Philosophy, skin color, religion, it doesn’t matter. It’s that simple. It’s all about this bond, their love of serving the big picture that makes them different. Sounds familiar to TNR doesn’t it? When SEALS are in difficult circumstances, they will get out of it together or they won’t get out of it at all. They hold themselves to higher levels of expectation. They are willing–on any given day–to lay down their lives in the act of service to their country. Talk about being a warrior!

Without a love of Chiropractic, we will eventually be led down the path to compromise our Code of Honor. Many DCs will simply not take a stand for Chiropractic. They will instead take a stand for income production all in the name of the individual. There’s nothing right or wrong with this ideology, however it doesn’t reflect the uniqueness of being a TNR-style DC. It takes no Code of Honor to wave an ultrasound instrument on a back sprain for ICDA reimbursement. Is Chiropractic sacred, or just something we do to make an income? Miracles everyday or business as usual? We see it every day with “integrated” practices featuring everything from medical services, weight loss, teeth whitening, and hair weaving. All in the name of being accepted by others who have no need for a Code of Honor. In the allopathic model, it’s all about the economics, the power, and the control of the people they serve, but not for the betterment of the people they serve. Like pro athletes that think they’re bigger than the game itself.


The Code of Honor in TNR and beyond


Your Code of Honor goes everywhere you go. It’s not a situational Code of Honor; it’s with you as you relate with spouses, children, society, kids on the Reservation, practice members, potential new patients, CAs, strangers, DCs–you get the picture. Are you for the greater good or self-gain only? What is your Code of Honor? Many of us who first join TNR are on a competitive plane that leans heavily toward “What’s TNR going to do for me?” But after a while in TNR, it switches to “What can I do to make TNR an even better place than when I joined?”


What is your Code of Honor?


Everyone who joins TNR begins immediately to work on their Code of Honor. They begin to raise the bar. It happens as a result of having a person in your life who demands more of you. There is a dynamic tension in the TNR community that asks you to continually strengthen your personal weaknesses and move forward. Allowing someone who you respect to put pressure on you is the mark of humility. You can’t do this by yourself–isolation fells so many a great DC. Most DCs feel they already did this at Chiropractic school and now they’re on their own. They don’t need this and it’s not necessary in their lives. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Many of our members are married, have kids or are thinking about starting a family. They have lots of responsibilities and obligations and there is a huge price to be paid for having this Code of Honor. Being gone many weekends during the year is not easy on family members, but spouses understand by the frame of mind they come back with after events that this is something that brings out their best. We know it isn’t convenient or easy. We salute every past, present and future TNR member who does what it takes to develop this Code of Honor. It’s like going back to school–which some people don’t want to do. Maybe it’s too difficult, inconvenient or there’s an easier way. Yet, there is a HUMILITY that develops when you commit to making yourself better. You stop looking for shortcuts to “hit the jackpot” and you start looking from a different vantage point…the TNR team. Your whole family benefits from the role model that does the work required to develop a Code of Honor. Your kids and spouse will thank you.   No practice management “steroids”, no shortcuts, no BSOs…just the emergence of the greatness that exists in all of us.

A Code of Honor is not something you develop and forget about, it’s something you continually develop your whole life. One of the crazy things you do to develop your Code of Honor is actually traveling away from the comfort of your home and attending TNR events to be with other like-minded people who are participating in the same process. The real test begins when you have to explain to your inner-circle back home why you aren’t going to be at the pig roast that weekend. Now you’ll see how bad you want it…or not.

“TNR events are like going to a concert. Not in a way that I’m going to throw underwear on stage with my digits attached, but you get the point; the experience is everything. It’s almost like skinny dipping–that feeling of excitement and freedom is the same. Sure I love my spouse and my kids and all of my responsibilities at home. But for just a few hours, I leave that behind and I’m free. It recharges my spirit. I don’t get that anywhere else.”      

Love Has No Color is a striking example. Once aware of the atrocities of life on the reservations, if your Code of Honor is developed, it kicks into high gear and you will ask your coaches how you can be a part of it to a higher degree.


A honed Code of Honor is like a sword…not a maul


Your Code of Honor only gets strongeSwordr when it’s demonstrated. Like a sword, it must be constantly sharpened or it becomes dull. We’ve mentioned this many times as a concept in TNR. When your sword is not sharp, you feel like you must use it like a maul. Everimagesything you do requires so much effort and your results are small. But it’s a sword, not a maul. Slicing through resistance, smallness, limited thinking and quitting is the function of your sword. When it’s dull, life starts to lose meaning. Some DCs think that you can just talk a good game, but at TNR events, warriors can see right through you. As the elder, Shep, at Fort Peck once said, “the Red Path is a difficult path and is one of heart.”


What is your real duty towards practice members?


When this question was posed to me by my mentor, Dr. Joe Flesia, I had to come clean with some embarrassing dirty little secrets. I still had allopathic traces in my office and I was on friendship terms with practice members, rather than being a leader. I truly wanted to help practice members, but I had a weak belief in and love of Chiropractic and a limited view of its power. Missing was the respect and awe of Innate Intelligence. It just wasn’t sacred to me. How could adult low back pain and neck pain be sacred?

Just doing some of the TNR procedures was a real challenge to me. Especially the Health Awareness Seminar. I felt like a slick salesman. And those videos–my patients didn’t like them. They were dated, so I agreed with them and didn’t do them with
“important” people. When faced with a difficult case, I relied more on outside-in modalities, nutrition, and exercise rather than allowing Innate to do its job. (Author’s note: this is not judgmental or critical toward any of our readers who utilize nutrition, physical therapy, rehab, etc. The point being made is to have complete belief and congruency in what you do believe in…no plan Bs). I had to develop this belief through many years of experiential events like H2Hs, voracious reading, clinical practice, taking on the skeptics, and mentoring other DCs.

What is your real duty to practice members that seek your service? Is it to do what they tell you to do? I.e.: “just fix my back, Doc.” Is it to just do your best to fit in with the socially accepted network of DCs? Is it to treat them according to insurance guidelines? TNR would humbly suggest that your Code of Honor is to do what’s best for each and every practice member. What is your duty toward a person who has an illness that is considered by the majority to be outside the purview of Chiropractic? Do you look the other way, perhaps reminding them of their limited major medical benefits or do you roll up your sleeves and demonstrate what you know to be true?

It is not the intent of TNR to convince you to practice a certain way or to prove subluxation-based Chiropractic. It’s simply a vehicle for those who want to learn how to become a once in a lifetime DC. If you want to help all ages–sick or well–and actually change the health paradigm, you’ve found a home. TNR is the community of support necessary to become a DC of distinction. You will fall many times entering the unknown, but members will pick you up time and time again. Outside the world of TNR, most DCs see competition and don’t want to cooperate with area DCs. But in TNR it’s just the opposite. Members are always there for each other, especially the “newbies” or brothers and sisters facing a challenge.

What’s your Code of Honor with your love of Chiropractic? I came clean with mine, now it’s your turn. What is your true intent every time you do a report of findings? Making this months overhead, making a payment on your brand new E-class Mercedes or is it that one human and their family actually gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience life different than the rest of planet? That’s deep!

How about your code of honor when it comes to kids? The majority of our profession offers kids care as an “off menu,” a la carte item. Will you step up and take the heat…or will you speak on a need to know basis only? It all depends on your Code of Honor. How about raising your kids? What medical procedures, if any, are you going to allow? Nobody will ever know of your decisions. That’s the thing about your Code of Honor, only you know. It’s sometimes easier to go with the flow when it comes to your own children. Once you start with small compromises, it begins to unravel. Your spouse usually has a decidedly different take on health. You will be reminded of the price you pay to have this Code of Honor every time you make a health decision for your kids and it doesn’t work out the way you planned. You have to answer to spouses, in-laws, and your parents. You might call these little compromises “dirty little secrets” that nobody knows about. We have all made such decisions. The solution is to start cleaning them up and take a bolder stand for your Code of Honor.

Vaccinations pose a constant challenge to the TNR warrior. School regulations, state regulations, sports teams, etc., the heat is always on to uphold this time-honored belief. Here’s a true story from mentoring in year one. A parent called me, agitated, confused and emotional. Their child around two years old (we’ll call him Archie) had suddenly started having severe seizures, lost the ability to talk and was unresponsive to communication. (Author’s note: Now we all know that for a child to exhibit these neurological behavior and personality changes, it takes many conditions to cause this. Often times we look at the last procedure and call it a cause. However, we should think of it as the straw that broke the camels back.)

When asked about medical procedures, I was told there had been none. I answered that there had been something that compromised his nerve system and pointed to an unlikely scenario. He almost hung up on me. I suggested that his son may have had heavy metal poisoning (highly unlikely) or that he may have received immunizations. I told him kids don’t go from chatty, active, two year olds to zombies for no reason. He said his wife laughed at his suggestion and said he hasn’t been to the pediatrician.

I suggested he call the pediatrician and tell him that his wife had lost her glasses and that they were thinking of all the places she had been in order to locate them.

“Have you seen my wife’s glasses?”

His response, “I haven’t seen her glasses, but I’ll look for them. She was in here last week to get Archie’s shots.”

He called me late at night in a state of outrage and disbelief. After settling him down, he said he was done with his wife for lying to him and sneaking behind his back. I let him in on another perspective of a young mother, hopelessly indoctrinated with the medical paradigm protecting her child. She was big into medical and only “tolerant” of Chiropractic. She was just trying to protect her son. They have since grown together and their child is doing as well. This situation actually brought them together.          

How about your Code of Honor when it comes to Love Has No Color? Is it “one and done” or a way of life? Are you committed to helping these kids in unfortunate conditions or do you leave it to the bigger offices and reassure yourself when you get bigger, then you’ll participate too? When you hear about the “reservation hesitation” do you use it to justify lack of participation or does it create a swell of determination in you that you’ll help the kids, no matter what. It all depends on what type of person you are.  

When we were going through the process of honing our Code of Honor, it seemed like Dr. Joe was brutally hard on us. He always seemed to ask more from us. He kept talking about the big vision and all the easier shortcuts that would lead an individual away from “Big Vision” Chiropractic. Even though it was difficult and challenging going through it, looking back we understand the urgency of Dr. Joe to make sure we would have the TNR Code of Honor to deliver to future DCs. You can trust it will take Chiropractic to where it needs to go.