A Therapist Walks Into A Bar

LOL ok, that’s not the joke. But my therapist did tell me a couple jokes during our last session that I thought were poignant.

The first joke: How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the bulb really has to want to change.

The second joke: How many social workers does it take to change a light bulb? It’s not the bulb that needs to change, it’s the system.

OK, now I’ll wait for the laughter to die down…..

When a light bulb breaks, it needs to be changed, no doubt about it. But, in the people-are-like-light-bulbs metaphor, people never do change unless they really want to, even when they know they are broken. This explains the first joke.

Not all light bulbs are the same. Some are 50 watt, some 100 watt, some 500 watt, etc. And what happens when you plug in a 50 watt bulb into a system that requires a 500 watt bulb? Well, the bulb breaks. Change that bulb out and put in another 50 watt bulb, and you’ll find yourself going through bulbs rather quickly and spending way more time at Home Depot than you bargained for. So, in the people-are-like-light-bulbs metaphor, we need to plug each bulb into the system that works for them, without breaking them. You don’t take a dim watted person and expect him to perform neurosurgery, cause it just won’t work. This explains the second joke.

Ok, so what are we to do? We live in an increasingly complex and demanding and stressful world. But not all people are able to handle all the stress this world can generate. Are we to just discard people like broken light bulbs? Or are we going to change the current system we live with, so that each person can have a place where they can be productive and make a decent living without breaking from the stress? Discarded people are expensive to maintain. Wouldn’t it be better to find these people something they participate in, so that they are not a strain, financially and otherwise, on the rest of society?

The demands of life are increasing every day. What a person did yesterday to maintain his livelihood will not be enough tomorrow. So, every day new homeless people are being created. The way to fix this problem is to have a more flexible and dynamic economic system, where everyone, regardless of ability and productivity will have the basics of food clothing and shelter. And under the heading of “shelter” will go things like a place to shower and take a dump. There are a million people in the United States that today are being denied these very things, all because they are a 50 watt bulb in a 500 watt world.

We can spend trillions of dollars on unproductive wars, we can create portable phones that can take and send photographs around the world within seconds. Fixing society so that every person is treated with dignity should be as easy as changing a light bulb.


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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