Friday Fable. “Diogenes Cup”*

Posted by jlubans on July 22, 2016

Caption: Rube Goldberg, Muse of bureaucrats.

“One story … tells us that Diogenes was walking along one day, carrying all his possessions with him as usual, when he happened to see a child who was drinking from a stream of water. The child scooped up the water with his hands and drank it happily. ‘This child is far more wise than I am!’ Diogenes exclaimed, and he then threw away the drinking cup he had been carrying with him. ‘Why should I burden myself with this drinking cup, when it is a simple matter to use my hands instead?’"

Well, what could Diogenes (the Cynic and Ascetic rolled into one) have to say to us in these technologically superior times?
A lot.
I remember one organization – indeed it was a network of similar organizations - which had over time come to prefer the overly complex in doing its work instead of taking un-layered, direct action. Rube Goldberg would have been impressed with some of their designs and machinations.
Unlike Diogenes, these organizations acted as if the shortest distance between two points was not a straight line. Baroque might have stylistic appeal but its complexity - however pretty to some - hinders real work.
A child shows the way and Diogenes sees the underlying timeless message: “Keep it Simple”.

*Source: Laura Gibbs’ “The Un-Textbook of Mythology and Folklore” for students enrolled in MLLL-3043-995, University of Oklahoma.
Laura Gibbs is the go-to person for anything and everything to do with fables and myths the world over. See more about her work here.

© Copyright John Lubans 2016

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