What if Uncle Sam Were Our Therapist?
by Jan Baughman

(Uncle Sam): How are you feeling today?

- I feel fat.

Fat is not a feeling. Perhaps there is another word for what you really feel? Isolated? Empty? Unfulfilled? Burdened?

- No, I simply feel fat. I have stuffed an abundance of food matter into this casing-organ known as skin. More than I need to sustain my sedentary lifestyle.

Forget what your mother told you about cleaning your plate. The children of Africa will starve either way. Realize that you feed yourself for comfort, entertainment, out of habit. You must accept yourself, love yourself for what is on the inside.

- No! I cannot swallow this! Thirty-five percent of Americans are overweight and I am 35% overweight. I must start by changing myself. I shall consume only what I need – no more; maybe less.

Well, if you think it’s important I can refer you to a specialist for dietary counseling. In the meantime, we are here to discuss your feelings. Do you think you can come up with one?

- I feel poor.

“Poorly”, you mean.

- No, poor. Destitute, barely able to make ends meet.

Perhaps what you are trying to express is a feeling of neediness; a longing for spiritual richness. This can only be satisfied from within. You can be rich if you have the desire. This is, after all, the Land of Opportunity.

- I don’t buy it. No one chooses to be poor. We turn our backs while the income disparity continues to widen. I see my neighbors struggle more and more to sustain their meager lifestyle.

You seem to be worried about everyone but yourself today. It’s best not to get involved with your neighbor’s problems. Let’s try to keep focused on you. Now, see if you can come up with a feeling.

- I feel violated.

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. What you are expressing is a sense of being persecuted; paranoia, if you will. That is normal for someone in your condition. This can easily be treated with medication (Uncle Sam begins to write a prescription…)

- No, that is not it, at all! I see it all around me – the discrimination against minorities, the rising ethnocentrism. It is as if we are losing everything we have fought for in this country. We cannot revert to the past, with its racism, sexism, even child labor…

But, we *need* to go back, return to a time of morals and family values. I will take you there now. Close your eyes and relax. Concentrate on your breathing. We’re going back:
It’s 1990...1980.....1970.........1960.............1950.................1940. Just relax.

Now, tell me how you feel…

(to Beverly)

Published June 27, 1996
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