Bears, Beets, and Ancient Philosophers


bears, beets, and-2

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a man. This man lived on a farm. One day, as he was watering his beets, he looked up. The sun was high and the bright rays obscured the image which was before him. He squinted, catching a glimpse of a late-middle-aged man with the longest beard he had ever seen (excepting Gandalf, of course) and dressed in a toga. The toga-clad-long-bearded man was walking directly towards him. “Slave!” toga-man called out. The farmer turned to look behind him, wondering who could possibly be addressing so impertinently. “Slave!” the man shouted again, this time louder. The farmer was aghast to discover toga-man was actually attempting to speak to him this way. While the farmer collected his wits, contemplating which words could possibly express his utter indignation, the toga-clad man saw the farmer’s metal name tag flash in the sunlight. He tried to sound out the strange word. “Dee-white,” he said slowly.

“DWIGHT! My name is Dwight!” shouted the beet farmer. “And I, sir, am no man’s (nor woman’s) slave. I am Dwight K. Shrute III, son of Dwight K. Shrute II, son of Dwight K. Shrute I, and I expect never to be addressed by you (or anyone) by any other title. What do you think you are doing on my land?  I do not recall inviting cross dressers to parade around my beets. Be aware that I am always acting in self-defense . . . occasionally preemptive defense.”

The man in the toga noted Dwight’s pale yellow shirt, which was only slightly more yellow than his skin, the large, odd mirrored rims around his eyes, and the short, stiff, oily hair split down the center of his head. The bearded-toga-clad man began to speak.

“I certainly will be aware, D-white K Shoot. Let me explain myself. My friends call me Crates. You may address me as King Socrates. It was yesterday that along my journey I had an enlightening conversation with–”

Dwight: “Stop. You can’t just parade around my beet farm telling me that you are Socrates. You’re just Jim in a toga. Well, you can’t fool me, Jim! I thought I told you never to try this again.”

Socrates: “What is a ‘Jim’?”

Dwight: “This is not funny. Identity theft is not a joke, Jim!”

Socrates: “I do not know of whom you speak. I have no knowledge of a ‘Jim’.”

Dwight: “Well, if you’re really Socrates, prove it. What is the greatest form?”

Socrates: “Why, that which is good must be the greatest form.”

Dwight: “You’re right. Jim would never know that. Hello, Socrates. I’m now going to take your picture and post it all over the web to show everyone else how inferior they are. I’m sure they’ve never had Socrates standing next to their beets.”

Socrates: “I see your mouth moving and yet the words which you speak mean nothing at all.”

Dwight: “Just stand still.”

Socrates: “What is that thing?”

Dwight: “Siri, open camera now.”

Siri: ‘Opening camera now, Jedi Master Dwight,’ came the robotic response.

Dwight: “I trained her to call me by my correct title. And you, Socrates, may feel free to refer to me as such, too.”

Socrates: “The black box speaks?” gasped Socrates. “Is this magic? Is it from the gods? And what is a ‘web’? You must be a philosopher.”

Dwight: “Correct. I am. This black box is only the government’s weapon of mass destruction and means of knowing where everyone is and what they are doing, looking at, and searching for. The web is the World Wide Web. It’s a giant black hole of Chinese merchandise and cat pictures just waiting to be bought, seen, and known by all — another weapon of the government to slowly brainwash humanity.”

Socrates: “The government? Do they use this weapon for the good, the true, or the beautiful? This powerful black box must be a god, then?”

Dwight: “False. It is plastic. The government would not know what is good, true, or beautiful if my mother hit them on the head with a cast iron pan.”

Socrates: “Your government is bad, then?”

Dwight: “Correct.”

Socrates: “In order to create an ideal society, you see, we must have superior guardians. The government is essential. That is why we philosophers must teach them what is good, true, and beautiful.”

Dwight: “They won’t listen.”

Socrates: “Then we must have our auxiliaries overthrow them. Have they a strong militia?”

Dwight: “Against me? No. I can take on anyone. When my mother was pregnant with me, they did an ultrasound and discovered she was having twins. When they did another ultrasound a few weeks later, they discovered I had absorbed the fetus. Do I regret this? No. I believe his tissue has made me stronger and I now have the strength of a man and a little baby.”

Socrates: “So I see. But, to return to what I was previously saying, we must teach the people what is good. In order to do so, we must inform them that their lives must be communal, for the goodness of the whole depends on its parts.”

Dwight: “Question. No, statement. You must follow me inside. Now that your picture is posted on Facebook, the government will be at my doorstep in no time looking for you and asking where I’ve hidden my time machine. That’s none of their business, so we must hide you.”

Socrates: “You keep using these words without any meaning. What is a ‘Facebook’?”

Dwight: “It is the largest social media database known to man. I use it to inform fellow humans how inferior they are. I feel it is my duty to humanity, although it is a heavy one to bear. Here. See for yourself.”

Socrates glanced at the glowing box, on which he read that Jim and Pam got married and Angela Houston changed her profile picture to a picture of a scrawny, frowning cat that appeared to be as old as Socrates himself. He saw that Phyllis was “eating a sandwich,” and Kevin commented, “ooh, what kind?”

Dwight: “See? Utterly inferior. The whole lot of them.”

Socrates: “You are right, Shoot. These people must learn to control their desires and extinguish their unintelligent thoughts in order to reach the realm of the true. Cats and sandwiches are illusory. They are nothing. We must seek that which is beautiful. As a philosopher, is it not burdensome knowing that the earth is full of inferiors, that no one truly knows, and that we philosophers must occasionally lower ourselves to lead this fallen race?”

Dwight: “I couldn’t have said it better myself, Socrates.”

When they reached Dwight’s rustic abode, Dwight led Socrates into the kitchen. “Would you care for any water?” he asked.

Socrates answered, ”I suppose I must. Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.”

After discussing whether the happy man was the most moral, to which Dwight simply replied, “False. The strongest man is the happiest,” the two became fast friends. They bonded over their mutual belief in philosopher male superiority. Dwight moved Socrates into his basement and taught him more about social media and fed him all of the beets he could ever wish for. Meanwhile, the two plotted to overthrow the government in order to lead the people to that which is good, true, and beautiful.



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