Someone not long ago (I guess it was in response to the Edward Snowden scandal) asked me what do I honor more – my freedom or my safety?
I had to think about it for a second – safety is my weekness, but then I smiled and said with an unshakable certainty: freedom.
This dilemma is perfectly depicted in Aesop’s fable, that was re-written by La Fontaine in poetry. I know La Fontaine’s version better, and I thought I’ll try to do a rough translation, – not because there aren’t enough already, but because I can, so why not? It couldn’t hurt. Here it is:
Jean de la Fontaine: Le Loup et le Chien – The Wolf and the Dog
The Wolf was nothing but skin and bones,
(the dogs were so diligently warding the sheep),
when he met a fatty Dog with sad groans.
It was big with a shiny fur.
“Could I tear him apart?” the Wolf demurred.
“The strength is too much that he owns.”
So he took to coaxing,
he complimented on his top-notch tummy.
“My friend,” replied the Dog,
“You could be a fatty hog as well,
if you join me!
Your kind in the forest is all nuts,
searching for food night and day,
their scruffy skin hanging on their bones like drags.
No safety, no peace…
But who comes with me will have a splendid fate!”
“What would my job be?” asked the Wolf.
“Nothing too heavy, just a bark here and there,
chasing beggars and travellers,
to fawn upon the master of the house,
your payment will come accordingly:
all the feeding, chicken bones and dove wings,
caressing and fondling.”
The Wolf is almost crying with the
prospect of such a future.
But than he observes the solid
worn-out stripe on the neck of the Dog.
“What’s that?” “That? Nothing.”
“Let me hear it!” “It’s just a small rubbing.
The collar does that, which ties me up.”
“You’re tied up?” shrieked the Wolf.
“Good bye then! Eat as much as you want,
I do not wish to join your kennel
for all the lamb in the world!”
replied the Wolf and ran away.
(Aesop’s version adds:
Better starve free than be fed as a slave.)