the allegory of the rose

November 24, 2009
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This allegory is a Socratic dialogue modeled after the teaching method of Socrates. Socrates taught his students by using questions and consequently forcing the students to draw their own conclusions. This dialogue in particular explains the importance of relationships in life through the metaphor of a delicate flower.

SOCRATES: imagine, for a moment, a flower; a delicate, young, barley budding rose.
SOCRATES: good. Now tell me, would this fragile plant not be vulnerable to the elements? Would not even the slightest breeze or the lightest touch damage the flower irreparably?
IGBERTES: it very well may.
SOCRATES: now suppose this flower is in a garden, surrounded by other taller, stronger more mature plants. And, as is expected, this garden would have a gardener, would it not?
IGBERTES: of course.
SOCRATES: and, as any gardener would, he would tend to the plant and help it grow.
IGBERTES: as would be expected.
SOCRATES: yes, and would he also supply the plant with clean water and rich soil? Provide it with a post which it may grow against and use for support.
IGBERTES: I would assume so
SOCRATES: and, would he not, if need be, help it regain its health and beauty after a long harsh winter?
IGBERTES: that would make sense.
SOCRATES: so all in all the man would care for the plant, correct?
IGBERTES: basically.
SOCRATES: and what of the bushes and stones around the flower? Would they not offer additional support to the plant? Would they not strengthen the soil and provide some small degree of protection and allow a hold for the roots of the plant?
IGBERTES: obviously.
SOCRATES: so, how, in your opinion, would the plant fare alone? If the plant was growing in a less helpful place do you think it would survive?
IGBERTES: less helpful how?
SOCRATES: suppose the plant is in a field where the only other plants were grasses and moss. And suppose it is the middle of summer. Would the rose flourish?
IGBERTES: I cannot see why it would not.
SOCRATES: nor can I, but now imagine it is the coldest and harshest of winters; a winter where the cold is so severe that the lush green color is drained from the grass and the trees are mere shadows of their jubilant, majestic summer counterparts. Would the plant survive then?
IGBERTES: no, I suppose not.
SOCRATES: so the plant itself does not have the necessary requirements to survive, correct.
IGBERTES: exactly.
SOCRATES: so if the plant cannot survive alone, what then would you assume the plant needs?
IGBERTES: something or someone to protect and raise it.
SOCRATES: and what or who exactly has the ability to do such?
IGBERTES: the gardener.
SOCRATES: so would you say the gardener is the plants source of life?
IGBERTES: no. the gardener only assists and provides acceptable living conditions. The flower lives but the gardener helps it do so comfortably.
SOCRATES: so what are the flowers chances of living a long and comfortable life without the help of the gardener or the protection of the garden?
IGBERTES: minimal.
SOCRATES: true. And so are your chances of living if you have no one to assist you.
IGBERTES: how so?
SOCRATES: just as the flower would struggle and die without the help of the gardener and the safe haven of the garden, you too would struggle and eventually die without outside help. Do you think you would be alive if it were not for the people around you?
IGBERTES: no I guess not.
SOCRATES: if it were not for the assistance of your parents and the teachings of your instructor, do you believe you would be the same person you are now?
IGBERTES: of course not.
SOCRATES: the help of those around you is not only vital but inevitable. It is human nature to seek out others who would be willing to assist you. It is an integral and invaluable part of life, and to deny such an urge is to deny that which makes you human. And the same applies for all living things. Would a pup survive without its mother? Even trees need the help of insects and other plants to loosen soil and protect them from dangers.
SOCRATES: there are those who would challenge this ideology but they, in my opinion, are fools. The necessity of others in life is obvious. It is universal truth. But the trouble with this comes when attempting to make this necessary connection, for to establish this connection there must be a relationship, and for any such relationship trust is necessary.
IGBERTES: why would that be a problem?
SOCRATES: many struggle to give trust. And those who do give it do so begrudgingly, but without trust there can be no relationships with those around you, and without the guidance and assistance of others survival is impossible and life is meaningless and futile.

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