Friday Fable. La Fontaine’s “THE TWO BULLS AND THE FROG.”*

Posted by jlubans on November 13, 2015

20151113-bull3.jpg
Caption: Illustration by the French caricaturist, J. J. Grandville, pseudonym of Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard (1803 – 1847).

“Two bulls engaged in shocking battle,
Both for a certain heifer's sake,
And lordship over certain cattle,
A frog began to groan and quake.
'But what is this to you?'
Inquired another of the croaking crew.
'Why, sister, don't you see,
The end of this will be,
That one of these big brutes will yield,
And then be exiled from the field?
No more permitted on the grass to feed,
He'll forage through our marsh, on rush and reed;
And while he eats or chews the cud,
Will trample on us in the mud.
Alas! to think how frogs must suffer
By means of this proud lady heifer!'
This fear was not without good sense.
One bull was beat, and much to their expense;
For, quick retreating to their reedy bower,
He trod on twenty of them in an hour.”

“Of little folks it oft has been the fate
To suffer for the follies of the great.”


Yea, verily. In my business I’d see "perfumed dagger" stuff, like my first boss used to say, in the administrative suite akin to the bulls battling over a pasture. The loser would get “kicked upstairs”, ousted from a position of some importance and “promoted” to another of an apparently higher status but far less influential. Sometimes the “promotion” was masked as a “re-organization”, a shuffling around of responsibilities. In reality, this sleight of hand was nothing but an avoidance of decision-making and effective leading. Instead of frankly counseling a no longer satisfactory manager to improve or move on, the CEO copped-out. Was it all about “saving face”? Depends on whose face is being saved.
Regardless, the employees (the frogs) who get the “demoted” boss have to deal with his stomping around and other behaviors stemming from the so-called “severity error”; when someone is treated shabbily by superiors, he treats his subordinates poorly, a form of “down stream retribution”.
And, worse for the organization, the demoted boss's new group knows full well it too has been down-graded.

*Source: THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE Translated From The French by Elizur Wright. [original place and date: Boston, U.S.A., 1841.] A New Edition, with Notes by J. W. M. Gibbs,1882. Available at Gutenberg.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: Pierce College Library, Puyallup, WA, USA
(I drove past the town of Puyallup last week.)


© John Lubans 2015

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