Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Never too old a dog

The old man nodded wisely (for he was a wise old man). He did so every few moments, even when he had nothing to say or when nothing had been said to him.

Certain actions are expected of wise old men.

He had been trying to tell a foolish young man (for all young men were foolish to him) the ways of their country. But the foolish young man was proving worthy of his title, and still did not understand. The wise old man nodded again, wisely (for how else could he nod?) and repeated himself:

"Once again, now. Repeat after me. No man is to steal."

"No man is to steal."

"No man is to kill."

Mindless repetition, "No man is to kill."

"No man is to put others' lives at risk for personal gain."

"No man is to... uh... put others wives... Uncle, say again, can?"

Wise old man sighs. "Let's just move on. That part isn't important, anyway."

Foolish young man responds. "Then what is?"

"It is one thing to obey when one knows it is right; it is yet another thing entirely to disobey when one knows it is right."

"Huh?"

"Obedience must be matched with wisdom, or it has no value."

"Huh?"

"Two large cheeseburgers with fries! No barbecue sauce!"

"Huh?"

The old man sighed again, wisely, and also wearily. They didn't make young men like they used to. This one was even worse than the rest. Just for the sake of having someone understand his message, he began to speak to himself.

"Obedience is easy when you know that to obey is to do right. But what about the commands of the crooked master? Does his servant wilfully disobey because he knows it is wrong? Is not disobedience also wrong? A powerful man, now, who gives the command over the fields and plantations that will send three-quarters of the kingdom into poverty while the rest grow even richer... if I were his slave, should I obey and be rewarded, or ignore him and save my people?"

The young man was now snoring.

The old man sighed and nodded again. "Yes, I understand what I should do. I should get a better employment agency. I wonder if those burger stands have vacancies for wise old men?"

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