As grad student experts have long taught us, Western culture is quick to marginalize and devalue knowledge from the "Other." For example, look at the recent ridicule aimed at the "Egg of Power" sculpture President Obama keeps in the Oval Office. There is a disturbing hint of racism to the ridicule, because that sculpture happens to refer to a traditional proverb that comes from, depending on how you Google it, either Kenya or a 1993 Hallmark Kwanzaa card. Would these critics be so cavalier in their snickering if the president had brought some traditional white art, like a Successories poster or replica Harry Potter wand?
This kind of closed-mindedness is wrong. Just because a culture has occasional problems with dysentery doesn't mean it can't produce sage nuggets of universal wisdom, suitable for framing. It is also wrong because it ignores the incredible merchandising opportunities. Just look at Hillary Clinton and Al Gore -- what better way to show off your expansive intelligence and down-with-the-Other multicultural chops than quoting the occasional Third World tribal advice?
That's why I'm proud to introduce LEADages, my exclusive line of exotic motivational leadership proverbs from around the developing world. Designed for the executive on the go, these power-packed primitive catchphrases let your co-workers know that you're the kind of leader who stays two steps ahead in the sensitivity game. Drop one into your next PowerPoint deck, and you're on the fast track to the HR multicultural committee! Look for the complete line of limited edition desk sculptures, coming soon to SkyMall.
"Beware the eye of the tiger, for he is a survivor, and he knows many power ballads."
"Give a man a fish, he will eat today. Promise a man a million fish, he will contribute heap big wampum to your tribal election campaign fund."
"While the polar bear bickers with the seal, that fat asshole walrus snarfs all the fish."
"All around us is a dream; the sky above and land we walk. Kangaroo dung is the nightmares."
"The man who builds his well at a distance soon laments when his wife's mustache catches fire."
"Do not curse the crow who has stolen you chili; tomorrow his rectum will curse the dawn."
"The happy man has two chickens; the wise man shares one with the man who has none. The prudent man reports the happy man to the authorities, so they can wise him up."
"The tawny kitten writhes before the white snake."
"Do not waste your time talking to the yak. Because yakkity yak don't talk back."
"Remember that the egg of power will drop if held too loosely; and an egg cannot break a rock. Okay, maybe if it's some sort of crazy unbreakable super-duper-power egg. But then you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, and neither can you make an omelet with broken rocks. It would taste like crap, and be hella hard on your teeth enamel. That is why you should probably just order the waffles."
"Even the wisest turtle cannot understand the sea. Get real dude, he's a fucking turtle."
"Beware the Bwana in khaki who hires you for the crew of his TV wildlife documentary, for he is often a lousy tipper."
"The camel has journeyed a thousand miles to reach the oasis palm, and yet he cannot get a date. Not smelling like that, anyway."
"Working together, two men can do the work of three. The trick is convincing those two other suckers to work together."
"The blue oyster does not fear the reaper."
"The clever old leopard does not fear double parking in Midtown, for his limo has UN plates and he has diplomatic immunity."
"If your canoe springs a leak, drill a bigger hole to let the water to drain out."
Arapazowee (extinct tribe)
"Do not barter your ox if it is still under warrantee."
"A watched head never shrinks."
"The single lotus blossom that brushes against river jade can defeat an army of steel fire-dragon. Well, okay, maybe that's just the opium talking."
"The lazy monkey mocks the noble lion from the safety of the baobob tree -- until the lion pulls out his surprise chain saw. Who's laughing now, monkey? But it turns out the joke is on both of them, because here comes Marlin Perkins and his surprise tranquilizer darts."
"Every rose has its thorn -- made from poison."
"A wise man offers his millet to be shared among the village, for his gift will be repaid a thousand times in gratitude. A wiser man takes somebody else's millet and offers it to the village. Guess what? Same gratitude, and extra millet for good ol' numero uno."
"The loyal dog feasts, but the treacherous cat no can haz cheezburgr."
"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. And for god's sake, bring some deodorant."
Lao Tse, The Personal Hygiene of War
"The comrade who is late to work will only get the last swig of the vodka. Even then it's probably half backwash."
"Embrace the foreigner, for he only wants to know what love is."
"The power of the leader is like his loincloth: worn too tight it will ride up and chafe, worn too loose it will expose all his junk."