Dale Carnegie and Ghandi for ME/CFS

ME/CFS patients find themselves in a deep hole of darkness and despair. Trying to crawl out of that hole requires great courage in the face of ignorance, bias and worst, apathy. Imagine decades of spooning away the dirt to make progress while people pass over the hole concerned only with their own schedules and recreation. Oh, occasionally, a passersby will say, "So sorry to see you in that hole." And then to add insult to injury, literally, a person will say, "How did you get in that hole? What did you do? Why can't you get out?" It's even worse when someone says, "Maybe if I pour some dirt on you, you will get out of the hole."

The frustration, the fear, the anger builds and builds. And there the ME/CFS person is, still digging away at the hole, trying to get out.

Many children who suffer from neglect and abuse will channel that anger into destructive, unproductive behavior. They do things that hurt themselves as much as the object of their anger. And sadly, such behavior does not bring an end to abuse. It may even have the opposite effect of people thinking the problem is the child, or is as much the child. Have we seen something similar in the ME/CFS world?

This does not have to be the case. With a little maturity and wisdom, and some worldly experience, many of the abused children become productive, not only for society, but to their own benefit. How many CEOs have come from disadvantaged circumstances? They have learned how to "make friends and influence people," to quote Dale Carnegie. They get people to do what they want them to do. Like Ghandi, Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr., some have attracted people to their cause through moral principle and non-violent, but disruptive actions. They motivated, they inspired, they attracted sympathy and support because their behavior was honorable and respectful and their moral  position was undeniable.

Carnegie was an expert salesman, who influenced people to buy his products. Here is what Dale Carenegie has said that might benefit ME/CFS patients:

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do.
Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.
Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.
If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.
Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.
The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
The royal road to a man's heart is to talk to him about the things he treasures most.
There is only one way... to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.
Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.
When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.
You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.

Ghandi, Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world through their firm adherence to a moral principle in the face of great opposition. Who could argue the unjust lynchings of black people in the South were atrocities, a terrible injustice? Yet, despite the horrible treatment of their peers, these leaders took the position of non-violence in their activism. Attention-getting resistance without anger, without violence, without threats, without weapons was the strategy. And in so doing, they brought attention to their plight, made their opposition uncomfortable, and created sympathy by acting with honor and dignity when abuse got stronger. They shamed their opposition and won friends in powerful positions, and ultimately, created the change they sought when those in power took pity on their cause.

Ghandi liberated India from Britain rule, Martin Luther King, Jr. liberated black people from unjust laws and Jesus liberated people from oppressive religious laws. Sadly, some paid with their lives in the struggle. However, had violence been the method, would not more have lost their lives? As it was, the deaths were not at their hands, the deaths came from the hands of the oppressors, thus exposing their opposition as being morally corrupt.

Interestingly, within their own supporters were many who advocated for the use of violence. It seemed to be the quicker method. Yet, these leaders knew that winning a physical struggle would not change the heart of man, which is what their ultimate goal was. And what is interesting is that battles set out to destroy by force are only temporary. Such victories survives only as long as the muscle is there. But when mankind's heart is changed to reject something as immoral, the society is changed, and that lasts for it is supported by the will of man and not force.

Here's what Ghandi says that might help ME/CFS patients:
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.
We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.
Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.
When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.

Quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who weilds it. It is a sword that heals.
Peace is not merely a distant coal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. 
The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invited defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Other examples of those who caused change through non-violence, no threats, just resistance based on a moral principle: Desmond Tutu and the Arab Spring. History shows this method is successful.

All of these have created change through the power of their collective will, unity in goals and peaceful resistance. Sadly, some of the ME/CFS "advocacy" or "activism" has not been constructive, but destructive. It is set to tear down the opposers instead of change them. Some actions have actually created sympathy for the enemy instead of for the patients.

Thankfully, no real violence has occurred. So I speak metaphorically. Violent or threatening words, untrue allegations, are not in the spirit of those who successfully changed society. We do not have to resort to such tactics, because we can win on morality, we are right on the issue. We don't want people to lose jobs. We want the situation to change. Our fight is not against people, it is against bad policy, ignorance, apathy, injustice and incorrect information.

The challenge is that with so little energy and money, how can we be heard? How can we bring attention to the issue? One of the most successful campaigns I have seen is the email campaign of patients asking NIH officials: "What have you done for ME/CFS today?" It was non-threatening. It showed power by the sheer number who participated. And it was disruptive, it brought attention. Dennis Mangan even mentioned his mother was getting emails. And he promised some action, if only the emails would stop. A few months later, the NIH had a big researcher conference, where those who research in other areas got a good lesson on the status of ME/CFS science.

I ask my fellow ME/CFS patients to find advocacy and activism that builds the reality we want instead of destroys what we don't want. I urge them to say what change is needed instead of telling what is wrong. Focus on issues, not people. Tell what right actions you demand. Be loud. Be disruptive. But be strategic. Be wise. Be constructive. Attract. Inspire. Motivate.

It may feel powerful to take down the enemy. But, it is no victory if it pushes away many prospective allies. While it takes longer and requires more patience, changing attitudes through positive actions is much more powerful and long lasting. Resist the temptation of the illusion of power at the expense of real change. Don't throw stones as we then become known as stone-throwers and lose our moral authority.

We can get out of this societal hole we are in, if we continue to dig with our spoons and speak loudly and in unison. As with the examples above, we may attract those with real power to bring us out of our hole.


  1. I am applauding loudly enough so that you can hear me from Michigan to Alabama. Excellent, excellent, excellent! -Michele Krisko


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