Two stories about animals
Story in “Analect” records that one day, Confucius’ horse stable caught fire. Instead of asking about the horses, he asked if everyone was alright, anyone hurt. Although horses were precious asset, more valuable than the lives of his stable hands and servants, he demonstrated that he considered, human lives more important. (I am sure that Confucius was attached to his horses too.)
bǐng jí wèn niú
Another parallel story in Analects is about a cow. Premier BingJi asking about the cow.
One day while travelling through the villages to survey how his citizens were living, Bingji saw a few men fighting. Yet he did not intervene.
Later in his journeys he saw a sick cow and send his attendants to enquire about the condition of the cow.
Surprised, his attendants asked why he was more concerned about a cow than humans. Bingji explained that he did not interfere in the matter of the men fighting because that was the jurisdiction of the local authorities.
However, the sick cow may signal an unexpected weather change or epidemic that could affect the harvest and the livelihood of the peoples under his charge (China was predominantly an agriculture country in those days.)
When we lead and manage corporations and nations, do we value our employees more than the balance sheet?
Money is important and all nations and companies need to stay afloat and excel. Shareholder returns are important. Digitalisation of the economy is for the ease of lives. Not the enslavement of another human being.
Disruptive technology has worked in a large part to capture shareholder value but at the same time remove certainty of employment and other benefits to the owner of labor.
Will disruptive technology also disrupt the dignity of labor? And instead reduce the price of labor to the constant haggling we see in markets of third world nations? (We call that demand and supply to sound more posh.) Will it lead to the enslavement of one group of people with another group.
But in the deepest of hearts, do we sometimes forget that people are not tools for our purpose.
When we look at the balance sheet of a successful company, do we ask how they treat the workers of production ?
Upgrading of skills, salary. Do they disrupt without creating value for families and homes? Do we measure success from only the view point of shareholder returns?