Too much monkey business
Culture Vulture loves monkeys. The little proto-humans never cease to intrigue and very often entertain us. So we had to click on the photo of an Indian macaque that was recently one of the Internet’s most-downloaded pictures. It seems that the population of monkeys—which are sacred and protected in India—has become troublesome: often destroying files, screeching at visiting dignitaries and breaking power lines in the government offices of New Delhi. But, because their sacred status makes it sacrilegious for humans to retaliate against their simian persecutors, the monkeys are allowed to continue their predations until the humans can figure out how to appease them. So the clash of the sacred and profane, the ancient path of harmony with nature and the modern reality of humans in conflict with their environment, manifests itself in the disruption of bureaucracy by a troupe of monkeys. We can’t help but wonder if perhaps the ancients who established the sacredness of India’s monkeys realized that maintaining a harmonic bond with our tree-dwelling cousins would provide a method of gauging the correctness of our actions as a civilization. If the monkeys are mad we must be doing something wrong; if the monkeys are appeased the human relationship to the natural world must be in balance. And yet Culture Vulture can’t help but speculate that monkeys are very much like humans in certain of their traits, one of the most universal being that if you give them an inch they’ll take a mile. We also can’t help but feel that the monkeys deserve the mile.
One of Culture Vulture’s compulsive behaviors when allowed a moment of slack is to sit gazing into space and trying to visualize an economic system that would free civilization from the shackles of poverty and wealth. What if, for instance, everyone on Earth was paid a flat rate of $10 per day, no more and no less for any individual, no matter what his or her calling. Would advances in civilization continue to be made if the motivating factor of making more money were eliminated from the equation?
Our long association with musicians, artisans and craftspeople, coupled with a background in agriculture and the manual trades, leads us to think civilization would proceed just fine without the need for personal wealth if the educational system were reconfigured to encourage and develop each individual’s innate potentiality, or as they used to call it on the standardized tests, “vocational aptitude.” And if the health care system were designed to provide full coverage to each and every individual. And if the economic system for distribution of food and lodging were designed to provide every person with a suitable diet and dwelling place. And if not wealth but labor were equally distributed. Such speculations beg the question: If we were freed from the need to guard our wealth or escape from our poverty, would we continue to find reasons for engaging in personal conflict. Culture Vulture thinks we would, with the stipulation that personal conflicts are just incentive for solving personal problems.
No reason to drag the nation into it.