Friday Fable. Aesop’s “JUPITER AND THE MONKEY”*

Posted by jlubans on August 21, 2015


“Jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts, and offered a prize to the one who, in his judgment, produced the most beautiful offspring. Among the rest came the Monkey, carrying a baby monkey in her arms, a hairless, flat-nosed little fright. When they saw it, the gods all burst into peal on peal of laughter; but the Monkey hugged her little one to her, and said, ‘Jupiter may give the prize to whomsoever he likes: but I shall always think my baby the most beautiful of them all.’”

Your toxic boss has a mother. The biggest jerk at the office has a mother. Even Vladimir Putin, it is rumored, has one.
Aesop’s story suggests to us the vast breadth and depth of a mother’s love. So, then how and why do some people turn into miscreants? Is it “nature or nurture?”
I lean toward the former, the genetic. Most of us have an adequate supply of the cooperation gene. It’s why we are where we are, having survived thousands of years. It’s why we help each other. It’s why we share our toys and tools.
Yet, there are always a few at the end of the figurative line when the cooperation serum runs out. They’re the ones who cannot leave it on the playing field or on the board game table. For the true Darwinian survivalist, everything is a zero sum game; “I win, you lose” is the only way. If most of us were not so tolerant and cooperative they’d be run out of town or drowned early on.
We put up with them, sometimes at huge social costs. Like a loving mother, we’re ever hopeful the nasty, brutal little kid will turn into a kindly, contributing adult.

*Source: AESOP'S FABLES A NEW TRANSLATION BY V. S. VERNON JONES WITH AN INTRODUCTION By G. K. CHESTERTON AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARTHUR RACKHAM (Publisher: London: W. Heinemann; New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1912). Available at Gutenberg.

© John Lubans 2015

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