Blessed are the sarcastic, for they shall succeed in business
I have sometimes suspected that the phrase “Christian Businessman” was an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, and that suspicion was reinforced by an article I have just read on the Web. Harvard Study Shows that Sarcasm is Actually Good for You:
Data from a recent study entitled, The Highest Form of Intelligence: Sarcasm Increases Creativity for Both Expressers and Recipients, suggests that the delivery and deciphering of sarcasm offers psychological benefits that have been largely underappreciated and long overlooked.
The article tells us that the research was sponsored by Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School and INSEAD (“The Business School for the World”).
For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of the saying “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”
The article I just cited tells us that people who believe that are stupid and uncreative.
So what is sarcasm, and why is it something that Christians should avoid if possible?
sarcasm n. Bitter or wounding remark, taunt, esp. one ironically worded 
The English word sarcasm is derived from the Greek sarkasmos, which suggests the image of a predator devouring its prey. So if, as the article, suggests the people most likely to succeed in business are those who habitually go around making nasty remarks about others, and the most effective bosses are those who habitually tear strips off their underlings, the term “unscrupulous businessman” is a pleonastic redundancy.
Well what’s new? I think most of us knew that.
I think we all knew that “business ethics” was a contradiction in terms. I recall seeing a cartoon in Mad magazine that had some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for commemorative postage stamps (remember them?), and one showed two people hugging each other, each with knife in hand, stabbing the other in the back. That was to commemorate 100 years of business ethics.
What’s new in this article is a kind of psychological proof that nastiness works, that being sarcastic gives you the edge in business. So sarcasm is a virtue to be inculcated and cultivated. Yet it is the very opposite of ubuntu and Christian values.
Nearly every Sunday in Orthodox Churches we sing the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12).
Why so often?
Perhaps because of the frequency with which we are bombarded with propaganda to do the opposite.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy, but being sarcastic is the very opposite of being merciful.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Wrong, say the business gurus. Blessed are the pushy.
It is perhaps easier to find Christian values among the scruffy beatniks and drop-outs from society than among the business leaders.
As one beat generation writer said to the square who offered him an advertising job: ‘I’ll scrub your floors and carry out your slops to make a living, but I will not lie for you, pimp for you, stool for you or rat for you.'
It is the worshippers of the bitch-goddess Success who hold out sarcasm as a virtue and a behavioural ideal.
 Concise Oxford Dictionary, Fifth Edition.
 Lipton, Lawrence. 1959. The holy barbarians. New York: Messner.