Nepotism is eternal. And as much as the sentence itself has troll-conjuring prowess, allow me to explain the veracity of it. One of the things that makes us the sapiens we are today is our endless drive to build a legacy. Sometimes for the world but almost always for ourselves and, by extension, our families. Monarchy might be dying a slow death but in each regular blue-collar worker there is a monarch who would do everything they can to make the lives of their scattered genes better. Yes, a billion-dollar investment banker might give his son an Ivy-League degree through donation but an average bank manager might also use his clientele’s clout to get his daughter into that horse-riding club for the super elite. The true revelation of humanity, after all, lies in the lies of equality we lullaby ourselves to sleep with. And, to be fair to both, it is how modern humans came to be.
After centuries of living as apes, we evolved into warrior tribes looking out for shared food and hereditary lands, kings preserving whole countries and its resources as their private property and finally 21st-Century tycoons safeguarding their neverland like virtual wealth. The common denominator being an aggressive possessiveness for what is theirs and leaving it behind for who are theirs. It is a paramount driving factor of the evolution of the post cave era. Let’s introspect. You work endlessly for forty years and make a fortune and Everest of credibility in your industry. Would you favourably transfer this flourishing business with decades worth of clientele to your offspring or end all operations at the end of your life and tell them to start from scratch? The fact that nine out of ten people reading this thought the obvious is the reason why nepotism is to humanity what Rumi is to sufism. For, if you take the ability to create and distribute legacy from humans, you very much also take their inherent motivation to make the Taj Mahal from ivory rocks.
Nepotism isn’t black and white, more than often it cuts in very subtle greys. If you were Bill Gates’ young relative and looking to learn about investing, Uncle Buffet, who has known you since you were a toddler, will ever so gracefully take you under his wing for a six-month internship. This was not a business decision on Uncle Buffet’s part, and the colossal knowledge that you’d be getting in those six months would take exceptionally talented people at Wall Street decades to earn. I heard an Indian actress from a family of movie stars once say that she, having never asked for work with her parent’s resumé, is not a product of nepotism. That fact that the producer, writer, director and the lead actor all look up to her father with so much reverence and her surname was well-established before she even started to walk needs to be duly considered.
Why do we humans often seek to ingratiate ourselves to our superiors and strive to earn a place in their good books? Simple. We are obviously relying on their nepotistic tendencies to win ourselves that extra push. The act of being Christmas kind to your boss’s family or to that client you have been eyeing for months is the fixed deposit of nepotism you hope to yield substantial returns from. And no, this is not to criticise or disparage. It’s just to posit that nepotism might very well be a core part of both our social and psychological fabric. In a perfect world, everyone would be be a giving soul, not a drop of fossil fuel would be wastefully consumed, and we would bring our population down to a quorum and return to the wilderness from our artificially run villas.
The reality most often overlooked is that one can indeed be kind and motivate others even whilst loving their own. It is evil only when individuals turn predatorial and make deliberate attempts to foil the growth of the less fortunate — that would be like a man-eating tiger going out hunting even though it is not hungry. It is gratuitous.
If you look at nepotism closely, you would also find the heartwarming care and love of your parents and siblings. In a way it is the cousin of power. It is all evil till you have it. In the smallest of ways we are all nepotistic deep down. When the corporates we work with ask for recommendations, we push our close friends over more capable connections on LinkedIn who have been requesting a job for months. We give our departmental store’s deal coupons to our relatives when we could have given it to the homeless we see everyday outside the Metro railway station. There is always someone more deserving of that clout than those we love. Yet, completely aware, we keep favouring the ones we have a personal attachment to.
And this isn’t likely to change. For, with it would also perish the unfailing love we have for people who are precious to us and whom we treasure and nurture, and the inexhaustible desire to want the very best for them.
We carry the eternity of nepotism in our souls every time we say “I love you” to someone.