Let me tell you one of my favorite jokes!
A man visits a doctor.
“When I do this, it hurts,” he says.
The doctor answers: “Well, then stop doing it!”
There is a political message buried in this joke. Somewhere. I am almost sure.
Do you know how a fig tree smells? I am standing near a fig tree grove. The smell is sweet and embracing. I want to share this experience with you. But I cannot do it. Why is that?
I could tell you that the fig trees’ smell reminds me of resin and honey. I could claim traces of vanilla too, you can always claim vanilla. But even if I was not entirely wrong, it would be nothing more than words.
“Do not cut off the branch on which you are sitting.” – It’s an old saying. Well known throughout cultures and languages.
Yet I see people (well, let me use the obligatory, potentially overreaching rhetorical plural: I see us) furiously sawing on the branch supporting our butts.
Culture and prosperity need safety and a set of values to flourish. The latter are the branch the west is sitting on. I smell alarming amounts of sawdust.
“Take one,” the master said. He offered the student rice cake. Some pieces were decorated with a pattern. Some pieces carried secret signs that the student had yet to learn. Other pieces were plain, but colorful, red or green or yellow.
“Thank you,” said the student and moved closer to the table. He took some rice cake and then a bite. The master ate cake too.
They sat opposite of each other, chewing the sweet, soft rice cake.
Then, the master asked: “What did you just do?”
The student had expected a test. You visit a master for more than sweets.
“I ate cake,” the student said.
The master shook his head. “Yes, I have seen you eating the cake,” he said, “you chewed and you swallowed. But what did you do before you took a cake from the plate, before your fingers lifted the cake for your tongue to enjoy its taste and softness.”
The student did not know what to say, so he said nothing. That proves that he already had learned something before.
The master pointed to the remaining cake. “You picked one. Thus, you decided against all the others.”
The student bowed and mumbled: “Thank you.” That is what you say, when were taught a lesson. Especially if you did not understand it yet.
The master laughed and took a second piece. While chewing, with his mouth full, he asked: “What is wrong with the other pieces? Why did you not choose one of them?”
“I don’t know,” the student admitted, “There is nothing wrong with the other cakes, but I could only choose one, master! There was no reason for this piece and not any other.“
“I don’t believe you,” said the master, “are you a marble rolling through the room, hitting the walls, waiting for rice cake drop into your mouth? I do not believe you are a marble. You must have had a reason!
The student really did not know why he had chosen this and not those other pieces.
The master wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He said: “We should find out what it is with you and the rice cake!” He offered the plate: “Will you take another piece?”
The student would have liked a second piece, no doubt, but he did not dare. The student did not know how he should choose. He blushed.
The master laughed, picked a shiny red rice cake, and gave it to the student.
The student said thank you, then he took a bite.
“Why are you eating this piece?” the master asked.
“You gave it to me!”
The master smiled. “You need to learn once again,” he said, “how to pick your cake yourself.”