“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Look at Murat dead in the tub. His girlfriend stabbed him. It was just a bit of political business. Nothing personal. What is a revolution without a bit of blood anyway? Don’t take it the wrong way.
My Judo teacher from high school used to delight telling a particular story over and over. It was about how samurai warriors would test their blades. In case you didn’t know, Japanese swords were a big deal. A miracle of the forge, melding hard steel onto a core of soft, springy steel. It was a curved sword with a long grip to allow it to be wielded by two hands. You could strike a fearsome blow with it. A samurai soldier’s sword was an item of honour, quite unlike anything else you might dream up. To take it away would be worse than separating a pimp from that big, long car.
Samurais were a special class, and highly trained. They protected the Emperor and they spent all day honing their skills. Or, honing their blade. You could sharpen a sword all day long. To know if it was sharp had a particular test. No, you would not shave hair from your arm, it was something else. A samurai would plant himself around a corner, hidden. When a peasant happened by, the samurai would leap out and cleave the peasant from stem to stern with one blow. That was, if your blade was sharp. You had to be able to slice the person in two neatly with one blow top to bottom, or your sword was not sharp. That meant you had to go back home and start over.
Cool story, sensei. Well, unless you were the peasant. I bet they stayed away from the market on sword-sharpening Fridays. But never mind, it was just a bit of business in Japanese feudal times. Not personal.
That’s a claim you hear a lot. Not personal. It’s like the “It’s not personal, it’s just sex” argument that boys trot out with girls. Well, from what I have seen, sex can be personal, at least personally lucrative. I had a boss who had a “personal” assistant who would buzz around the office, dressed like a Victoria’s Secret commercial. She had a personal condo down the road, and a personal new car with a license plate that said “ALL4T” (T was the boss’s initial in case you didn’t get it.) Problem was that your personal raise would disappear every year to such unforseen expenses. But never mind, it was just a bit of business. Nothing personal. Boys will be boys.
It is the kind of thing you hear a lot in business, and also in politics. Oblique appeals for “society”. Margaret Thatcher rightly pointed out that there is no such thing as society, just individual men and women, and there are families. You know, real people. Individuals. That is what real things happen to, to real people.
There is a guy I have worked with in a few places who can get very passionate about process. He is a process pusher and it is an item for the ambitious because you can alway hide behind process when you are putting the screws to people. They get their back up, and when they do he always says the same thing, about how ‘the business’ wants this and ‘the business’ wants that. No inconvenience. It’s just the business. Problem is ‘the business’ also regularly turfs people out the door when convenient. How could you fault them? It is after all just a bit of business. ‘The business’ requires it, after all. Now you know what it means when you ‘give somebody the business’.
People do things, and they do things to other real people, last time I checked. Those who say it is just business, are lying to themselves and to you. I have news for you. As long as there are persons, everything is personal.