The phrase “speaks with a forked tongue” means to say one thing and mean another or, to be hypocritical, or act in a duplicitous manner. In the longstanding tradition of many Native American tribes, “speaking with a forked tongue” has meant lying, and a person was no longer considered worthy of trust, once he had been shown to “speak with a forked tongue”. This phrase was also adopted by Americans around the time of the Revolution, and may be found in abundant references from the early 19th century — often reporting on American officers who sought to convince the tribal leaders with whom they negotiated that they “spoke with a straight and not with a forked tongue” (for example, President Andrew Jackson told the Creek Nation in 1829) According to one 1859 account, the native proverb that the “white man spoke with a forked tongue” originated as a result of the French tactic of the 1690s, in their war with the Iroquois, of inviting their enemies to attend a Peace Conference, only to be slaughtered or captured.
It is naive to think that those in positions of authority will act in an ethical way when they give a decision to act upon issues at hand. I grew up thinking that many of our authority figures in business, government, and other societal institutions have at least a moral code that guides their decisions they make in everyday occurrences. But after a half century of observations and encounters with people in authority positions, and ordinary everyday situations with regular people, I have found the evidence of many disparaging and acrimonious directives issued.
I saw this inequity in my early childhood, which to this day has shaped my conceptions of the world. The relationship dynamics we learn from our families interactions, with our friends, within the neighborhood communities, within the schools, and within other social functions where people will gather has given me much to contemplate. I have witnessed much good, and to my dismay much disillusionment. Perhaps this is the fundamental reasoning that impelled me to pursue a degree in philosophy and advance my studies. My first love was psychology. I found a world to explore that may explain much of my discontent growing up thinking I was somehow cognitively deficit in some way listening to comments directed towards me. After awhile I had an understanding with myself to meet the world by educating myself the best I could as to make the best possible decision to lower my dissatisfaction with the world. Firstly I thought I could become a self-actualized person studying humanism and the works of Abraham Maslow. After being inspired to transform my life by an understanding of the human mind, I could then better understand my place in the world.
It was then after my first exposure to philosophy that changed my life forever. I had now found a field that spoke directly to me often asking the questions I too was asking early on as a child. So obviously the natural course of action was to double major in both psychology and philosophy. My quest was not really for any job, but was rather initiated to educate myself that would best serve me in life. Ironically, identifying and classifying the world, cutting up the world using different analytical methods, and being able to explain organizational behaviors and ethical sociological systems will not protect one from misuse, abuse, and inequities that may befall one in life. The politics of being human has an insurmountable conflict before it. Humanity is by far the single most convoluted organism on the planet.
I truly want to believe that people are by nature good, that they want to do the right thing, and that they will act without prejudice of self-interest. Unfortunately, as much as we would like to believe in this fiction even though it does exist among many of the populace, we may find much to the contrary in our connection with the world. I am but a faint voice that speaks out about such matters. I am far from being an exemplary citizen, and continue on my path making mistakes as much as the next average Joe, yet I feel compelled to think about these matters as I have a deep heart-felt disconnection to those that wrong us in our lives, and especially those who continue to practice habitual misdeeds and live by a code of immoral execution whether they know it or not.
When you find this behavior existing and thriving in an organization, you begin to wonder how this is allowed to continue with such frequency not having the checks and balances that one would think would not allow these behaviors to perpetuate. Denial, and poorly derived false arguments based on ad hominem and other logical fallacies are often employed to prove the actions of many in the managerial roles within a company. This dynamic can work in two different ways. On one hand to hold those dis-favorable members to a higher standard of accountability then you would to the favorable members, and on the other hand, selecting the favorable members not critiqued with as much tenacity or integrity, and purporting them as worthy of moving up. If you single out select few, that are performing on par or better than their peers, and on the contrary, if you single out a select few who are not doing well, yet support them via proxy favorable associations with those in authority positions, then the corruption of core values like accountability, integrity, honesty, inclusion, and respect are thrown out the window.
Managing chaos seems to be the modus operandi from an employer that ironically creates much of this chaos in the first place with its conduct of the personnel of the organization. Aside from the daily business practices that much of us have championed in our attempts to better ourselves both with our customers and with our personal relationship practices within the company, there is a leadership dilemma that often speaks with a forked tongue. Within large corporations there exists the temptation to appease those who wield the most influence over the group. If the leadership of the organization does not follow the core values, or if they selectively choose when they will follow and when they will not follow these moral codes, the credibility is forever lost.
In the case of nepotism, I have witnessed first hand from the inside of a very large organization the very disconcerting abuses of this operating criterion. Nepotism at work can mean increased opportunity at a job, attaining the job or being paid more than other similarly situated people. Arguments are made both for and against employment granted due to a family connection, which is most common in small, family run businesses. On one hand, nepotism can give stability and continuity. Critics cite studies that show decreased morale and commitment from non-related employees, and a generally negative attitude towards superior positions filled through nepotism. An article from Forbes magazine stated “there is no ladder to climb when the top rung is reserved for people with a certain name.” Some businesses forbid nepotism as an ethical matter, considering it too troublesome and disruptive. Nepotism describes a variety of practices related to favoritism; it can mean simply hiring one’s own family members, or it can mean hiring and advancing unqualified or under-qualified family members based simply on the familial relationship. The word nepotism stems from the Latin word for “nephew,” especially the nephews of the prelates in medieval times. While attitudes toward nepotism vary according to cultural background, nepotism is a sensitive issue in American business. Many companies and individuals consider the practice to be unethical, largely due to its conflict with traditional American values of self-reliance and fairness.
In Western societies nepotism raises legal concerns. Although U.S. laws do not specifically prohibit hiring one’s relatives, studies show that between 10 and 40 percent of U.S. companies maintain formal policies prohibiting such a practice. Many of these anti-nepotism rules were instituted in the 1950s with the aim of preventing the hiring of incompetent male relatives of male employees. In the 1960s and 1970s the same rules applied but failed to reflect the change in the workforce as more women entered the job market; females were often the victims of these rules, however, and many were forced to quit.
Nepotism is also tied to discrimination issues and pragmatic concerns. There is substantial debate over whether employers with any form of biased preferences for hiring, including nepotism, can even survive in the business market, ethical issues notwithstanding.
Once again, I am but an observer to a world gone mad drowning is a sea of discontent. How does one disconnect from the anguish? Do they focus only on the loving things in the world, do they replace the suffering by manifesting only the good they can muster? Perhaps the Christian notion of turning the other cheek, or the Buddhist doctrines work for many of the disenchanted? Balancing on the tight rope, finding the joy in life in an unjust world is definitely a task to undertake in our current malevolence of spirit seemingly stained upon the souls of the untrained human being.
I look forward to my journey in this world unraveling the antagonisms I will occasionally meet. I think it is likely that I will not change so much, trying to greet the world with a smile, knowing that I can only change myself. I want to emerge out of the jungle, using the forces in alignment with me and against me as gateway to my Zoetic.