A certain man was using a ladder to clean the cobwebs off of a light bulb in his one room apartment. While climbing the ladder, he slipped. The man fell and broke his hip.
He received medical treatment, but would be bedridden for several weeks. It hurt tremendously to move, so the man stayed in his bed most of the day. He lived alone, and his only form of distraction was books brought to him from the library by a neighbor.
The man’s sister came to visit several weeks after the accident. She lived across the country and made a special trip to check on her brother. She knew neighbors brought in meals, of which she was grateful because he had no other family in the area.
She arrived late one night after the sun had set. When she knocked on her brother’s door, he shouted, “Enter!”
Her brother was sitting up in his bed, a candle burning next to him on a small table. There were no other lights on in the room.
“Dear brother,” she said. “I was saddened to hear of your fall. How are you feeling?”
“I am getting better,” the man said.
“Tell me, why are you sitting in the dark?”
The man pointed to the candle. “I have plenty of light.”
“Do you mind if I turn on the light bulb?” she asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
His response confused her. The sister moved over to a chair next his bed and sat. “I do not understand.”
“If it had not been for that light bulb, I would not have broken my hip,” he explained.
The sister paused. The light bulb did not cause the fall, though she could see how he made a connection between the two. “But surely, you cannot see as well without brighter light provided by the light bulb.”
“Actually, I am seeing better than ever.”
The brother pointed to books scattered around his bed. “After my fall, I was angry with the light bulb. I started researching the light bulb. Do you know what I found?”
The sister folded her hands in her lap and listened politely.
“No one knows for sure how electricity causes a light bulb to work. It cannot be proven.”
“But brother,” she said, “you have seen a glowing light bulb.”
“Have I?” he said. “Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me.”
She took him by the hand. “I have seen a light bulb glow.”
“But do you know how a light bulb works?” he asked.
“No. But that knowledge is not needed to see the light or to benefit from what powers it.”
The man took his hand from hers. “How can you believe in something without a full understanding?”
“Because I choose to,” she said.
“That is naive.”
“Is it?” she asked. “Or is it hope that inspires me?”
“I do not understand,” he said.
“I hope that if I turn on the switch, the light bulb will glow. I don’t have to understand how it works for me to enjoy its light.”
“But you admit to needing to turn on the switch,” he said. “To perform an action to enjoy the glow from the light bulb. Perhaps there is no light. Perhaps it is all your imagination.”
The sister stood. “We shall see.” She walked to the wall, and turned on the switch. The light bulb began to glow.
She looked to her brother. He had covered his eyes with his hands.
“See? I told you it would not work,” her brother said.