03 December, 2013

A Fable

The Wolf and the Mastiff
By Aesop

A Wolf, who was almost skin and bone — so well did the dogs of the neighborhood keep guard — met, one moonshiny night, a sleek Mastiff, who was, moreover, as strong as he was fat. Bidding the Dog good-night very humbly, he praised his good looks. “It would be easy for you,” replied the Mastiff, “to get as fat as I am if you liked.” “What shall I have to do?” asked the Wolf. “Almost nothing,” answered the Dog. They trotted off together, but, as they went along, the Wolf noticed a bare spot on the Dog’s neck. “What is that mark?” said he. “Oh, the merest trifle,” answered the Dog; “the collar which I wear when I am tied up is the cause of it.” “Tied up!” exclaimed the Wolf, with a sudden stop; “tied up? Can you not always then run where you please?” “Well, not quite always,” said the Mastiff; “but what can that matter?” “It matters much to me,” rejoined the Wolf, and, leaping away, he ran once more to his native forest.

Moral: Better to starve free, than be a fat slave.

* * * *

It’s been said more than once, by well-intentioned people, that my imprisonment may actually have some positive aspects: I don’t have to trouble myself with car repairs, utility bills, spam in my inbox, or anyone begging to stay the week on my couch. My basic needs for survival are met by the beneficent Department of Corrections, so that I never have to worry where my next meal is coming from, whether there will be a roof over my head tonight, or what to do if I get sick — all of which would be good and fine if I thought lazy contentment was the only thing that made a life worth living. The dogs don’t understand why this wolf paces in his cage.

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