Once upon a time, in a land very similar to ours, there was a family of monkeys. They were as happy as a monkey can be with very few worries. This is because if you are a monkey, your biggest concern is where you will get your next banana or who is going to pick your lice now. They were frolicking in the trees, eating bananas and picking lice.

The Good Life

Then came the Scientist.

I’m not going to hurt you.

The Scientist was already tired of experimenting on white lab rats. He had decided to move on to bigger and better things. Hence, he picked this family of monkeys.

Alas! The wretched monkeys were shipped to a laboratory where they were enclosed in a cage. They wreaked havoc and screeched, but to no avail. The Scientist had a purpose and he would not let these monkeys go until this purpose was met.

The Scientist installed a ladder in the cage. The ladder led up to the single exit from the cage. This exit was left open. The monkeys could climb the ladder to the exit.

The light at the end of the tunnel!

The catch was: every time a monkey tried to climb the ladder, the rest of the monkeys would be doused with freezing cold water.

Papa Monkey courageously ascended the ladder. The Scientist drenched the rest of the family with cold water. They screeched and shrieked, and Papa Monkey flung himself off the ladder, fear etched on his face as he hurried over to his distressed family.

Next, Mama Monkey climbed the ladder. She made it to the second step before the cries of her family stopped her from going any further.

Granny Monkey went over to the ladder and slowly began to climb. Her family’s cacophony soon brought her down.

Baby Monkey tried his luck. He sauntered over to the ladder, but the rest of the monkeys were savvy to what was going on now. They pulled Baby Monkey away from the ladder. They did not like the cold water. Climbing this ladder meant being soaked in the bad cold water. They did not like this ladder.

Thus, the monkeys had no choice but to live in the cage. Their one chance of escape was a trigger for horrible circumstances. They could only while their time away in the cage now, trapped by the Scientist’s bucket of water.

Generations of monkeys wasted away in that cage. Whenever a brave monkey tried to climb the ladder (which still stood there, with the exit on top), he was instantly pulled down by the rest of the monkeys.

Papa Monkey, Mama Monkey, Granny Monkey and Baby Monkey had all gone on to the next world, but their descendants continued pulling the other monkeys away from the ladder.

They did not know why they were doing this. They had never experienced the bucketful of cold water. But they knew for sure that climbing this ladder equalled a bad thing. They did not know what this bad thing was, how bad it was, or why it was even bad. But the tradition of yanking fellow monkeys away from the ladder was passed on from generation to generation.

What the monkeys did not know was that the Scientist had set a limit of 3 buckets of water. Had Baby Monkey climbed the ladder, the Scientist would not have doused the family with water. He would have let Baby Monkey escape. He would have let the other monkeys escape. They would have been swinging in trees, eating fresh bananas (not week-old ones thrown from above) and picking all sorts of lice.

If only they had let Baby Monkey try one more time. If only future generations of monkeys had let that one revolutionary monkey attempt to scale the ladder. Just once, let him break the tradition.

All of them could have achieved freedom. The Scientist smirked as he wrote in his little diary. The lab rats had not been any different.

If only they had realised that the only traps were their own minds.