I am not a psychotherapist, but I play one. When I came back to the office after the Jan. 4-Jan. 7 Florida United Numismatists convention I was joking around with staff about it. It sums up part of my professional role in life.
No, I don?t aspire to be the numismatic Frasier Crane, a fictional TV psychiatrist with a radio program, but sometimes I feel a bit like him.
The currently battling American Numismatic Association board members and membership are a case in point. The issues have gone far beyond facts and have basically turned into one large therapy session.
Board members don?t like it that the membership is giving them negative feedback. They think it is excessive and they feel they are ill used if not completely misunderstood.
Members who are offering this negative feedback are feeling trampled on and betrayed and harken back to some simpler and ideal time when all was well and the board perfectly responsive.
The board says it wants professional management. The disaffected members want an organization that is responsive to their needs and currently feel as if they are not receiving this.
Let me tell you, the great majority of ANA members don?t view this as an either-or situation. They want both. They expect professional management. They also expect an organization that is responsive to the needs of average members.
Both sides have portions of the truth on their side. Both sides are talking past each other rather than to each other. However, it is certainly a good thing that an effort is being made at communication.
The current board inherited some difficult issues that they are striving to solve professionally. That is good. It is necessary. It is their responsibility. However, they appear in public to resent member feedback as if this is somehow behavior that is out of bounds, and that sound business decisions are not recognized as being as beneficial as they are.
Members are rightly upset at their perception of being shut out of the process. They worry that this is going to be institutionalized with bylaw changes, that an imperial board will be created. It is a rational worry, but not necessarily a correct one. I worry, too.
However, in many meetings there seems to be some degeneration into simple carping on the same topic over and over again regardless of response or changing circumstances.
Members cannot change what they feel. It is on the board?s side that extra efforts must be made. Board members must listen to the umpteenth reiteration of points long dealt with. It goes with the job.
I served as president of the Village of Iola for seven and a half years. I had friends and acquaintances hit me with what I thought were overdone diatribes, but I always looked for the truth in what they said and kept in mind that I would probably see them again at the next Friday fish fry or Fourth of July fireworks event and we would be buddies again.
Board members can and do get hit with gripes that can be very exasperating. However, we all expect a professional response. That?s part of the deal. When we say it is a thankless job that they have, they know now what we mean.
In that light, I think it is significant that there was a public ANA listening session at the FUN show and that there was a meeting where the ANA president met the advisory council. Those are good things. The board is to be commended. There is still some rough sailing ahead, though.
I remain an optimist. There are too many good people involved for me to be a pessimist. We all will see each other again at the Charlotte, N.C., convention in March, perhaps the Summer Seminar at ANA headquarters, or even here in Iola at an open house. We will get through this patch and the upcoming election. I am David C. Harper and I am listening.