Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Monkeys, Caretakers and Apostles


Here are three little stories.
I think they're all relevant in our world today.
The first two aren't original, but they're worth repeating.
The third is about a favourite subject of mine.

1. Start with a cage containing five monkeys.
In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put 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 of the monkeys with cold water.
After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when any monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, turn off the cold water. 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 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 him with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Again, replace a third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat 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 the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys who have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced with new ones. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.
Why not?
Because that's the way it's always been around here. And that's how company policy begins.



****

2. Smallish town in the American Mid-West.
The town council has a bit of a problem with abandoned cars.
And so, the members decide to allocate an area, on the outskirts of the town, where people can leave their old cars when they’re finished with them.
It proves to be a popular move, and soon, hundreds of cars occupy the site.
Indeed, people come from other towns and, for a small fee, are allowed to dump their cars there.
Then, at a council meeting, someone raises a worrying scenario. What if somebody started a fire at the site?
And so, after some debate, it is decided to hire a caretaker.
He is duly hired. But it’s not long before he points out, that he’s only there eight hours a day, and, really, it’s at night and at weekends when young men have drink on them, that there is danger of something happening.
And so, after more debate, another couple of caretakers are hired. And some retired local men are hired to cover the weekends.
Now, a toilet is installed on the site and a cleaner is hired to visit three times a week to keep the place clean and tidy.
Then, a council official points out that there are now three full time and five part time caretakers working at the site. And there is a part time cleaner too.
So it is decided that a member of the council accounting staff will be assigned, on a part time basis, to organise wage payments and to deal with the small fee being paid by those who wish to dump their cars.
Because of annual leave and occasional illness, he is given a part time deputy too.
Now, there is a large staff at the site, and it is suggested that it would be wise to appoint a site manager. And, of course, a deputy.
And so, two senior appointments are made.
The first thing the new manager does, is organise a review of costs.
This takes two weeks.
And when it is complete, he presents his report to the council.
He has concluded that, while the project is, obviously, worthwhile, it has become costly. And savings should, and could, be made.
He makes a proposal to the council.
And it is accepted unanimously.
And the caretaker is made redundant.


****

3. Small town in Bethlehem, two thousand years go.
There is a man there, a preacher and holy man, who has twelve close associates. He calls them apostles.
One day, He gathers them all together.
“I have bad news,” He says.
“Things are tight. I’m afraid, I’m going to have to let you all go.”
They are devastated. They trust Him. They rely on Him. Everything they have comes from Him.
“Why, master?” they ask.
“Quite simply, I have managed to secure some apostles from South East Asia and from Africa. I can look after twelve of those apostles for the price of four here, and I'll have lots of money left over for other things.”
“Other things?”
“Well, things. Just things. Look, I’m in charge here. My decision is final.”
“But the people won’t be happy.”
“No. But I will be. And I’m the boss.”
Of course, it didn’t happen.
But oddly, people who, these days, proclaim their belief in Jesus Christ, who tell us they understand his message and who pay public homage to Him, do precisely that with their workers.
Simply put, businessmen who outsource with the sole intention of making more money for themselves, are not, and can not, be Christians.
They should really be thinking camels and needles and eyes.

1 comment:

Brendan Martin said...

Absolutely right about the greed of the so-called Christians. They justify it by the use of terms such as "market forces" and "that's business, it's nothing personal". It's personal to those people who lose their jobs. I blame Thatcher and Reagan and their economic policies. They made greed respectable.

Thatcher also as good as killed off the trade union movement in the UK, which for all its faults played an important role in keeping a balance between the forces of labour and capitalism.