Transcript of 7th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Kester Langford, Tuesday, September 2, 1997 at 1:00 pm.

Mr. Langford: Good afternoon, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Kester.
Mr. Langford: I'm glad that you were able to fit me into your schedule--I thought about coming to see you every day last week. But I was still just so lethargic that, by the time I remembered, I'd already missed my appointment.
Dr. Balis: Why were you so lethargic?
Mr. Langford: I don't know really. Well, that's not exactly true. First, I started having difficulty swallowing, but after a few days that went away. Then I started having terrible headaches. Thank god for over-the-counter drugs. The headaches were so bad that when I coughed, I thought my head would explode. It was difficult dealing with being sick and having to work. I tried to get that other guy--the one that works when I don't--to take over for me, but he could only help me out for two days. That was a help, but I really wanted a week to get myself back together. I stayed in bed as much as I could. But then the alarm went off last Friday night, and I had to call Jake. Now that I think about it, I had every reason to feel lethargic.
Dr. Balis: Have you seen a doctor?
Mr. Langford: Everyone is asking me that; it's really getting irritating.
Dr. Balis: So, did you see or talk to a doctor?
Mr. Langford: Wow. I would have bet you were going to ask me what was so irritating about being asked if I saw a doctor.
Dr. Balis: Well?
Mr. Langford: No, I haven't seen a doctor. I think that we're all programmed to think that the Almighty Doctor is the first thing to do. I don't know about you, Doc, but most of the sicknesses that I've had throughout my life have lasted about the same amount of time regardless of whether I saw a doctor or not.
Dr. Balis: You seem to be in good health today.
Mr. Langford: I'm feeling a lot better today, thank you.
Dr. Balis: Is there something more you'd like to say about being irritated or your attitude towards doctors?
Mr. Langford: Yes. I think that alternative medicine has an important place in our lives, but I feel a lot of pressure to believe otherwise.
Dr. Balis: Your health is a very personal matter.
Mr. Langford: Damn right! I got a postcard from Evelyn. It was nice, but it felt cold and removed. I've spent a lot of time thinking about her. I've really got to get back to my mark making.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to tell me what you've been thinking?
Mr. Langford: Yeah, I guess. But there are some more pressing matters.
Dr. Balis: Pressing matters?
Mr. Langford: I received a very disturbing letter from my estranged brother, Chester. He told me that he was sorry for all the pain and suffering that he had caused me, and he asked for my forgiveness. He went on and on about all the different situations in which he caused me pain or humiliation. He pleaded for my forgiveness but not for my understanding. At the end of the letter, he even apologized for the letter and how uncomfortable it would make me feel. He told me that he had received Jesus into his heart and life. And now that he'd been saved, his mission in life is to help his friends, family, and strangers see the light of Jesus Christ. He told me that he prays several times a day and that I'm always in his prayers. He said that he knows in his heart that I too will accept Jesus Christ as God and Savior.
Dr. Balis: I see. How did that make you feel?
Mr. Langford: It made me feel terrible. I felt so weird after receiving the letter that I called up my friend, Oshiro. We talked about the "born again" trip that so many people are on these days. We agreed that the whole feeling of the letter was really one of great desperation. The letter that I sent back to my brother was short and to the point. I told him that I was glad that he found God, but that I was not ready to accept Jesus Christ as the only son of God and the only way to my salvation. I started to write a lengthy essay about cross cultural beliefs and how peoples throughout history had their beliefs about creation and the purpose of life, but I decided not to send it. I decided that it wasn't important for me to try to change my brother's mind.
Dr. Balis: What about the letter made you feel terrible?
Mr. Langford: Maybe it felt like another form of brotherly abuse? In essence, Chester was telling me that he had been lost and his life had been a waste. But now that he had found "The Truth," everything was perfect and his life was meaningful and beautiful. In no uncertain terms, he explained how empty and meaningless he felt my life had been and still is. But now he had found the answer for himself and for me. I resent the implication that only people who worship Christ--or any other person, place, or thing--can have meaningful lives.
Dr. Balis: But what do you find abusive about your brother trying to share his new awareness?
Mr. Langford: He's not sharing, that's what! He's following in the same footsteps as missionaries, evangelists, and other "true believers" who try everything in the book to brainwash people into believing what they believe. They want my mind, my body, and my soul, and I'm not going for it. As long as I can explore myself and my world, I have a chance for a deeper understanding and appreciation of my life. The philosopher who sticks with an explanation in the face of personal experience to the contrary is no longer a philosopher--he's a dogmatist, a dictator, and a very dangerous individual.
Dr. Balis: Do you feel your brother is dangerous?
Mr. Langford: Definitely. How is he any different from the people throughout history who've killed and committed genocide in the name of God or some ideology? The missionaries throughout the world have told millions of people that their own cultural beliefs and life styles were wrong. We as human beings continue to perpetuate superstition and myth. People who are interested in power have used this divisiveness among people to gain and maintain control of the masses.
Dr. Balis: You seem to be very passionate about this issue.
Mr. Langford: I've lived my life in my own way, but there has been a price. People usually find me interesting and intelligent, but it is rare for me to find someone that I feel really understands or appreciates me the way I'd like to be appreciated. I'm not a nine-to-fiver, and I'm no businessman. I'm a mark maker. I live between the cracks, and I don't believe that makes me a sinner. It just makes me different.
Dr. Balis: How would you like to be appreciated?
Mr. Langford: That's the sixty-four thousand dollar question. I don't know if I have the strength today to really go into that, but it has to do with trying on my point of reference without prejudging me. It has to do with more than acceptance and appreciation. It sounds funny, but how do you appreciate a flower? I bet you've never heard anyone say that they want to be appreciated like a flower before, eh Doc?
Dr. Balis: Not in those words.
Mr. Langford: I was pretty upset last week.
Dr. Balis: About your brother?
Mr. Langford: Yeah. But also about something that happened with Jake.
Dr. Balis: What happened?
Mr. Langford: He was different from when we first met. I guess there was a honeymoon phase, and now it's over. I told him how sick I was and he never once commented about it in any way. Nothing. No "I hope you feel better," or anything. He just wanted to know if I were going to be able to do my job. I said yes. That was it. But he did say he liked one of my marks tacked to the inside of the door--he called it "that calligraphic piece." That felt good.
Dr. Balis: Were you upset about his lack of compassion?
Mr. Langford: You could put it that way. I want him to consider me not just as an employee, but as a friend. Maybe that's unrealistic, but it's what I would like. But just because I want it that way, of course, doesn't mean that it will happen that way. I know that.
Dr. Balis: Have other bosses that you've had became your friends?
Mr. Langford: Sometimes you are predictable, you know? Most of my bosses have been friendly, but only one or maybe two became actual friends.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Langford: Doc, would it be all right if we end the session ten minutes early today? This was the only time I could get an appointment with the herbalist.
Dr. Balis: Herbalist?
Mr. Langford: He's across town and I've got to be there in ten minutes.
Dr. Balis: Sure, we could end right now.
Mr. Langford: Can I make an appointment to see you in two weeks?
Dr. Balis: That will be fine.
Mr. Langford: Thank you, Doc. Goodbye.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Kester.
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