We Are All Capuchin Monkeys

By | February 14, 2018

Short 1 min video showing how fairness is baked deep into our psyche.

Notice the monkey getting the grape. He seems happy. It doesn’t seem unfair to THAT monkey. It’s the monkey who gets the cracker that gets pissed off.

I have privilege coming out of my ears. I am white, tall, male, and American. No one scrutinizes me when I walk around in a store. Police don’t pull me over for no reason. I don’t have to worry about being sexually harassed or getting paid less because of my gender. I have the grape. All day grapes for me.

The people getting the crackers are women, minorities with various shades of skin color, disabled people, and old people. They are getting crackers now and have been getting crackers for hundreds of years. White men see the unfairness exactly like the monkey (with the grape) in the video. He thinks everything is fine. It’s easy to be happy when you get grapes.

Transition to the #meToo movement. There are some who equate the accusations to McCarthyism where even the hint of being a communist would get you fired and ruin your career. It was a bit of cracker for the white men who were accused. Nowadays, the accusations are for sexual harassment where men are getting fired or in the case of Al Franken, stepping down from their posts.

A white man might say, “Hey! this is unfair! Where is Due Process!”  You see? They are getting a cracker for once and get pissed off. Of course, it’s unfair. However, getting grapes for hundreds (thousands?) of years is also unfair. Maybe white men deserve to get crackers for a while. Maybe minorities and women deserve some grapes at the expense of white men.

Of course, it would be great if we could all get grapes. Unfortunately, anyone with kids can tell you that you can’t give perfectly equal treatment. One grape will be slightly larger than the other grape. It’s impossible to be 100% equal. You do your best, but sometimes the grapes and crackers get distributed unequally, even under the best intentions.

I support affirmative action. This is the practice of giving grapes to those of us who have been getting crackers for so long. This means hiring women and minorities even if you have a better candidate who is white and male. This means changing the laws to stop putting so many people of color into prison, even if that means some dangerous people slip through the cracks. This means skewing benefit to women and minorities in publicly elected positions. It means accepting the fact that we have received far too many grapes and we need to give some of them back.

Life is not fair. I learned this at an early age. We can choose to be selfish. We can just eat the grapes and make laws that keep the grapes to ourselves and dole out crackers to everyone else. Or… we can chose to be human beings and not monkeys. We can choose to give up the grape to make it more fair. We can cut the grape in half and take some cracker with our grapes.

We can evolve.

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