A Fairy Tale: The Sage, The Scholar & The Administrator
Once upon a time there was a sage who spent most of her days in the market place, begging for food. One day a scholar found her there and asked to learn all the wisdom the sage had gained from her experience, careful observations of the world and wide reading of so many texts.
“I will bring you food,” the scholar said, “so you do not have to spend your days begging in the market place. In return, I would ask you to share your wisdom with me.”
The sage agreed, delighted to know that the knowledge she had would not perish with her when she left this world. For a time all was well; the scholar brought food and they discussed many subjects great and small with delight.
Then one day a strange figure appeared at the scholar’s shoulder. “Who are you?” the two of them asked.
“I am an administrator. I would like to help you teach more efficiently and to record the progress the scholar has made in his studies.”
“Why?” the sage asked.
“How will you know whether your teaching is efficient or if the scholar’s progress has grown? I can keep track of these things, though I know that would be very dull for you. All I ask is a little of your food.”
They agreed but in the blink of an eye a second figure appeared behind the first one. “Who’s that?” the sage asked.
“That’s my administrative assistant, who takes care of the paperwork I don’t have time to deal with. We can make the food go a little further.”
“I suppose,” said the sage with some misgivings. “But who’s that?”
A third figure had appeared in a twinkling. “That’s my assistant’s secretary. You can’t expect a knowledgeable administrator to do filing and typing.”
“But there’s not enough food for all of us!” The sage shook her head.
“I’d like to ask you to serve on a committee to explore ways in which we can support our mission more effectively,” the administrator said. “Meanwhile the student can go find more food to keep our system going.”
“But my ‘mission’ was simply to share the knowledge I have gained from experience and study. I don’t want to sit on a committee.”
“You’re outvoted,” the administrator said, pointing to the administration, a crowd that had grown to monstrous proportions. They looked suspiciously demonic to the sage, all gibbering in dull tones, incomprehensible.
The scholar began to sob. “I cannot spend all my time finding food to feed this horde. I just wanted to learn.”
The wise sage prayed to the goddess Sophia for succor. After a short delay, the goddess appeared. “I had been lulled to sleep for many years by the drone of an administrative meeting. These creatures are demons who escaped from an infernal realm.” Sophia took her mighty book and used it to hasten all the demons back to the subterranean world in which they belonged.
The sage and the scholar returned to the discussion of art, politics, culture and science and the world was saved. Again.