100th Monkey

22 04 2008

Social change.  It takes time at first.  But then, all of a sudden, after what seems like years of hopeless efforts, something happens and everything shifts all at once.  Society reaches its breaking point.  It can’t hold onto the madness of the current situation.  It all comes crashing down.

So it the story of the 100th monkey.

The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, was observed in the wild for a period of about 30 years.  In 1952, on Koshima island, scientists conducted an experiment where they gave the monkeys sweet potatoes that were covered in sand.  The monkeys liked the sweet potatoes, but they didn’t like the sand.  An 18-month-old female monkey named Imo found the solution by washing her potatoes in a nearby stream before eating them.  She taught the trick to her mother.  Soon, her playmates learned the trick too, and they also taught their mothers.  Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sweet potatoes.  The adult monkeys who imitated their children also learned the trick, but other adults kept eating the sandy potatoes.

As the story goes, in the morning on a fall day in 1958, 99 monkeys were washing sweet potatoes.  Then that afternoon, the 100th monkey learned to wash her potatoes.  And by night fall, all the monkeys in the tribe were washing their sweet potatoes.  The added energy of the 100th monkey had tipped the scale and created an ideological breakthrough.

But the most stunning part was that not only did the entire tribe on Koshima island start washing its potatoes, but also did Japanese monkeys worldwide begin washing their potatoes.

This story demonstrates the power of one in the process of social change.  I have always enjoyed this tale.  I often feel that my actions do not have global reach, that I cannot make a difference in the world.  However, the 100th monkey inspires me to keep speaking up and acting out on behalf of my beliefs.  I have stopped buying bananas.  I have told my friends about my banana crusade, and I will continue to spread the word.  Maybe my friends and readers will tell their friends.  The movement will expand outward.  It is my hope, that one day, we will reach critical mass.  We will all be so strong in our beliefs that the world will shift.  Our cause will achieve global reach.  The big multinationals, like Fresh Del Monte, will be forced to change their ways or perish.

Social change, while sometimes slow and frustrating, can also be impacting and even irresistible.  Ideological movements have force behind them.  Don’t believe me?  Think Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez or Ghandi.  These are real examples.  I am no Ghandi.  I would never make that claim.  But people have power.  We can make a difference.  So please spread the word and keep fighting for the rights of the banana workers.  Perhaps you are the 100th monkey.




2 responses

4 03 2009

i randomly stumbled upon your page and found it quite interesting. Thank you for your efforts and passion for human rights.

I think it is wonderful that you are doing your part to reveal the truths of the banana industry. It is unfortunate that these types of abuse are common in many industries. I learned about the abuses of floral workers in Columbia during one of my college courses. Of course the conditions are extremely harsh for many factory workers worldwide and they are paid well below a living wage.

I really enjoyed this story of the 100th monkey (very fitting for your page)
Keep up your efforts, they are noticed and every little bit counts.

It would be hard for me to stop buying bananas, they are so good for you. Do you know if organic bananas ok?

28 09 2009

ya..the 100the monkey theory is a very interesting one. In my personal opinion the reason for this is the wave nature of thoughts.It is said that each thought is a wave and have a particular energy.I have explained this in my blog.

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