Friday Fable. Aesop's (Sir Roger L'Estrange) “A DOG IN A MANGER”*

Posted by jlubans on September 23, 2016

Caption: The dog: “No food for you (and none for me)!” Illustration ARTHUR RACKHAM, 1912

“A churlish envious Cur was gotten into a manger, and there lay growling and snarling to keep the Provender. The Dog eat none himself, and yet rather ventur’d the starving his own Carcase than he would suffer any Thing to be the better for’t.”

“THE MORAL. Envy pretends to no other Happiness than what it derives from the Misery of other People, and will rather eat nothing itself than not to starve those that would.”

L’Estrange’s appended moral introduces a peculiar and insightful motivation for the “churlish envious Cur”; he’d as soon go hungry, as have others hunger!
Here we have the public servant who denies a client’s application because of a technicality, say something like the wrong color ink; or the pettifogger doubles back on the client with a new, onerous demand for information, one that, of course, has to be fulfilled in order for the application to go forward.
Or, consider the organization that permits the public servant to discriminate in whom to serve well and whom to serve poorly, even though both clients are equal. However this unfair discrimination comes about, it is a failure of the servant’s supervisor.
That servant – in the manger - does willingly as much harm to himself as he does to the client. Indeed, the misery spreads two ways, and soon engulfs the reputation of the organization. It becomes known for its nitpicking, meanness and obfuscation. If reputation matters – when does it not? - these passive micro-aggressions will one day be like the proverbial chickens come home to roost.

*Source: Aesop’s Fables translated by Sir Roger L'Estrange, 1692.

© Copyright John Lubans 2016

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