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By Murli Nedungadi


“Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ear; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them but the good is oft interred with their bones, so let it be with Caesar.” That’s from Mark Anthony’s famous speech after the assassination of his friend and hero Julius Caesar by his fellow senators.


For a very long time I have tried to understand the meaning of what Shakespeare meant by saying that the evil lives on and the good is interred with us. We are always told not to speak ill of the dead, aren’t we? The obituaries are full of the wonderful deeds done by the dear departed. These must then surely be only for the eyes of those who read these epitaphs. The writers are not to speak the truth as they see it -  in the press club it will be a different story!


So I look around me carefully at the people I know and strangers alike. I find that people step out of their houses each morning wearing masks which they remove only when they go to bed at night; sometimes not even then.


We greet people that we positively hate with words akin to love songs; we speak audibly of how wonderful they are when we are sure that they are within hearing distance. Our spouses are great, our children little darlings and our co-workers a joy to be with – until they are out of sight, of course. Then they become mean spirited witches, goblins and monsters. It amazes me to hear people discussing their families friends and co-workers with spite and anger; they talk of their parents, in-laws, out-laws, children, nephews and nieces, friends and neighbours. Yet face-to-face they ooze goodness! There are times when I am scared to leave the company of some of my friends – because I know that they will analyze me, categorize me, penalize me and advertise me. They, my friends, will not have a single good word to say about me!


And this is true whether you leave for a short period or for good. If you pay attention you will notice that the last person to leave a department, a division or a company is usually the one to be blamed for all mishaps. There seem to be some comfort in chewing someone out when they are not in!!


Why are we compelled to do this? If we could only stop and think a minute; perhaps we could ask others to stop or point out some of the better points of the absent individual. But we are afraid to do this for fear of being ostracized by our peers. Or we could say “to heck with it” and give everyone a piece of our purer minds!


But looking back at history I find that ranting and raving against the multitudes has often been a waste of time. If every tongue could still the voice would still continue; the rocks and stones themselves would start to speak…”(with apologies to Andrew Lloyd Weber) and while I continue to search for an answer, I ask you, please don’t praise me; but tell me, do we inter the good or the evil with our bones?


(Murli Nedungadi is a progressive People Manager working with a leading financial institution in Toronto. He is interested in organisational behaviour and strategic planning. He is a "cosmopolitan, well-travelled, multi-lingual individual, interested in people".)