1. Chinn, Peggy L. RN, PhD, FAAN

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Copper Woman warned Hai Nai Yu that the world would change and times might come when Knowing would not be the same as Doing. And she told her that Trying would always be very important. [1]


This issue of ANS (19:1) begins with a tribute to the life and work of Virginia Henderson. Anne Bishop and John Scudder, Jr, highlight Henderson's strong conviction that thinking and doing should be one. Henderson's conviction was uniquely and beautifully expressed in her long life of service and scholarship, contributing to a long tradition of deep knowing that thinking and doing can be unified despite the modern forces tearing them apart. Henderson knew that thinking and doing could be the same, and she tirelessly called on nurses to remember how important it is keep trying to bring them together as one.


It is not a coincidence that the theme of uniting knowing and doing appears in the ancient insights of native North American women as well as throughout nursing philosophy, expressed so clearly in Henderson's work. The splits that we experience in modern technological, industrialized society are ethical and moral travesties that deeply affect the well-being of the earth and all that inhabits the earth. The mind-body split that we persistently seek to overcome in nursing is actually rooted in the split between knowing and doing. This same split is also reflected in what we decry as the theory-practice split. I submit that if we work toward uniting knowing and doing, we will at the same time address in deep and powerful ways the many other types of splits that we are at least able to recognize.


Learning to know what you do and to do what you know is not an easy journey. It takes time to reflect on your actions. It requires a well-cultivated generosity of spirit toward your self and the ability to view every effort as valuable, as an opportunity to learn. I believe that the journey requires a community of people who together are willing to talk, reflect, and support one another in the trying. This is an ethical challenge because it requires courage to reach the honesty and integrity that bring knowing and doing together. Like most ethical challenges, the answers, even the possibilities, are seldom clear. But when knowing and doing come together as one, there emerges a deep intuitive knowing that leads to a place of peace with the knowing-doing. This journey is an ethical "good," because healing the split brings about a wholeness, an inner integrity, an inner peace that nurtures the body-mind-spirit.


The articles in this issue of ANS clearly reflect nursing's persistent moves toward ethics that unite mind and body, thinking and doing, theory and practice. I hope that as you read these articles you will find ways to take your own moves to heal the splits and to bring greater wholeness to human life and to the earth.


Peggy L. Chinn, RN, PhD, FAAN






1. Cameron A. Daughters of Copper Woman. Vancouver, BC, Canada: Press Gang Publishers; 1981. [Context Link]