Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE PEASANT AND THE SHEEP”*

Posted by jlubans on July 13, 2017

Caption. Exculpatory evidence. (Photo by M. Volpone)

“A PEASANT summoned a Sheep into court, charging the poor thing with a criminal offence.
The judge was—the Fox.
The case got into full swing immediately.
Plaintiff and defendant were equally adjured to state, point by point, and without both speaking at once, how the affair took place, and in what their proofs consisted.
Says the Peasant: ‘On such and such a day, I missed two of my fowls early in the morning. Nothing was left of them but bones and feathers. And no one had been in the yard but the Sheep.’
Then the Sheep depones that it was fast asleep all the night in question; and it calls all its neighbours to testify that they had never known it guilty either of theft or of any roguery ; and, besides this, it states that it never touches flesh-meat.
Here is the Fox's decision, word for word :
‘The explanation of the Sheep cannot under any circumstances be accepted.
For all rogues are notoriously clever at concealing their real designs; and it appears manifest, on due inquiry, that on the aforesaid night the Sheep was not separated from the fowls; and fowls are exceedingly savoury, and opportunity favoured it.
Therefore I decide, according to my conscience, that it is impossible that the Sheep could have forborne to eat the fowls; and accordingly the Sheep shall be put to death, and its carcase shall be given to the court, and its fleece shall be taken by the plaintiff.’"

And so it can be at work, when the decision-maker betrays the wronged, the unjustly accused. The Sheep’s fate awaits any person threatening the norms of an organization filled with like-minded dodginess and a shortage of accountability; a certainty for groupthink and the exclusion of opposing ideas.
Groupthink is the realm of the Yes-man; when the dominant culture wants its way, the Yesser acquiesces; he or she nods in approval.
For an independent thinker this is “like being caught behind enemy lines.”
I recall at a meeting with a government agency being met with stony silence and bureaucratic glares when I asked, un-sheepishly, for five consecutive years of production statistics; the agency’s foxy custom was to provide only the immediate year’s statistics, all the while assuring us, their clients, the agency was understaffed and overworked, etc.
As I soon learned, the foxes were in charge of this “court”.
I never did get those statistics. My peers, what did they do? Not much since many shared the self-serving notion that business models could not be applied to our kind of work; it was beyond measurement; our alleged “Quality” could not be quantified!
They were content with getting the “fleece” and the agency’s keeping the “carcase.”
In the meantime, our clients – the people we served - could wait.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

N.B. My next book, Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, comes out in September 2017 as an e-book ($2.99) and a soft cover book, ($23.99). The print book will feature original illustrations by the renowned Béatrice Coron.
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
Cover: "Fables for Leaders" PRE-PRINT, 203pp. 2017.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

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