Wednesday 15 August 2012

Gutter Philosophy

Once upon a time, a great sage had a dispute with another great sage, on an abstruse philosophical question. He said he would prove he was right, when the conditions were favourable.

Nobody knew what he meant, and they went their various ways, puzzling.

Aeons passed.

The Rich Man stood near the Bus Stop. He normally never would have come there, but something about the day made him ask his chauffeur park his luxury car and he got out and walked through the light drizzle and stood on the grass by the Bus Stop, looking around him and trying to decide what he was doing here and why he should be here at all.

The Middle Class Man stood near the Bus Stop. He sometimes took the bus, but not usually, preferring to use a taxi rather than mix with the common folk; and he dreamed of the day when he could buy a car and be like everyone who drove on the roads. Today, for some reason, he had no wish to take a taxi, and he stood waiting at the stop for a bus, wondering if the one he wanted even stopped here. He didn’t know.

The Poor Man could hardly ever afford to take the bus. Most of the time he walked wherever he could. Only if he had to travel very long distances, which was not often, did he get on a bus. Today was not one of those days, so he wondered why he paused in his efforts to earn a living only to linger at this nearly deserted Bus Stop. But he made no effort to move on.

 All of a sudden all three of them saw an old, old man coming. He was very old and bent but there was something about him which drew their attention to him. He leaned on his stick and went mumbling toothlessly past them, pausing only long enough to speak a few words clearly: “The Jewel Of The Ages will be found in the Gutter by He Who Dares.” And his stick stuck the pavement, and they saw that there was an open manhole leading to the sewers.

With one accord, the Rich Man and the Middle Class Man and the Poor Man clambered down the manhole to seek the Jewel. Curiously, none of the three noticed the other two. They climbed down the ladder inside and jumped down into the sewer, and began hunting through it for the Jewel. Long they hunted for it, but they found nothing except flowing sewage and the smell of rotting things. And at the end of it, tired, dirty and disgruntled, they climbed out one by one.

The old man was waiting. “What did you learn?” he asked them one by one.

“I learned,” said the Poor Man, “that the Middle Class people eat food so good that even rotten it is better than what we have, and can afford to throw away bread only because it has gone stale. I learned that the Middle Class can afford to buy medicines costing more than my month’s earnings and throw them away if they aren’t used up. I learned that I wish to be Middle Class if ever I can.” 

“I learned,” said the Middle Class Man, “that the Rich people live so well that they can throw away things into the gutter, things I can never imagine affording, just because they are slightly defective. I learned that the Rich can afford to holiday in parts of the globe which I can only ever see in an atlas, and throw the used tickets away, instead of treasuring them as mementoes. I learned that I want to be Rich if ever I can.”

“And what did you learn?” asked the old, old man of the Rich Man.

“I learned,” said the Rich Man, looking down his nose, “that the poor are responsible for all the rubbish, garbage, and stink.”

Nobody yet knows what the point was that the great sage was trying to prove.

1 comment:

  1. No matter the supposed problem, it is always the fault of the "other". Sounds so typical of Amerikkka today, never take personal responsibility. Oh, and sue who ever tries to make it your fault.
    Yes, I AM quite cynical.


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