I have no idea if this is truth or fiction (I’m guessing fiction), but it’s an interesting metaphor for the dangers of groupthink:
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.
As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the other monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not?
Because as far as they know that is the way it has always been done around here.
The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures. Living by the Golden Rule can serve any person well. But here are some addition reflections for the journey ahead:
- Life is a gift and not a burden. Even on bad days, we have so much to be thankful for.
- Love is a choice and an action. It involves risk, perseverance, sacrifice, and hard work. Love drives out fear.
- God is working in ways that we cannot even begin to understand.
- Pain and suffering are real, but they always make us stronger.
- Admitting we are wrong from time to time is necessary and healthy.
- Technology is both a blessing and a danger. It will run and even ruin our lives if we let it.
- Social media is a great way to connect but can quickly lead to narcissism.
- Be realistic about taking on commitments. Being busy has become a sign of status. Sometimes simplifying our lives is the best option.
- Money can buy lots of things but it cannot buy happiness and meaning. Many wealthy people are miserable and have not figured out the meaning of life. We all create idols in life without even knowing it.
- Knowledge is power, but it’s different from wisdom. Personal growth is essential. We are all works in progress.
- Theology is a life-long endeavor. God cannot be put into a box.
- We should never say things about other people that we wouldn’t want them to hear. If we say it, we should be willing to stand by it. Nobody wants a two-faced friend.
- Materialism and a false sense of self-sufficiency is an ongoing temptation in North America. The more affluent the society, the more distractions to real faith. Christ was right: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Heart follows treasure. Money makes a great servant but a terrible master.
- The government is not the answer to every problem, but it is responsible for certain things. Hateful partisanship and incivility have the potential to tear our nation apart from the inside out. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have a
monopoly on truth. Labels are dangerous. Civility is admirable.
- The birth lottery is real. Some are born to privilege. Some are born to poverty. If you’re born on third base, don’t act like you hit a triple. Be humble and grateful every day.
- Fear and anxiety must be faced, acknowledged, and sometimes medicated. Anxiety is simply fear of the unknown and will ruin the present.
- Tell the truth because lying is a slippery slope. Truth seems to be in short supply.
- Don’t judge people based on their age, religion, or skin color. We can always gain insight from those who are different.
- The United States is a wonderful country but it’s not the only nation under God.
- Travel to new places. Expand your worldview. Don’t stay in a bubble.
- Perception is not always reality. Accusations can be false. Rumors can ruin somebody’s reputation. Groupthink is dangerous. Always check the source.
- Credibility is built over time. Trust is built over a lifetime and is the currency of relationships.
- Love your family, even when it’s hard. Forgiveness is a recipe for survival.
- Be thankful for friends, for they are one of life’s greatest treasures.
- Pray regularly. Eat healthy. Exercise often. Read to learn. Hope. Dream. Listen intently. Be slow to speak and slow to anger. Live life one day at a time. Plan for the future.
- The grass may seem greener elsewhere, but usually, it’s not.
- Learn from the past, dream for the future, and live in the present.
Adapted from many places. What would you add?