03 February 2011

The Monkey & The Fish: A Parable

The Monkey

A typhoon had temporarily stranded a monkey on an island. In a secure, protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed obvious to the monkey that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.
The Fish

A tree precariously dangled over the spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down and snatched the fish from the threatening waters. Immediately scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments the fish showed excitement, but soon settled into a peaceful rest.

Joy and satisfaction swelled inside the monkey. He had successfully helped another creature. 
--Duane Elmer, from the book"Cross-Cultural Servanthood"

This parable is one I have enjoyed << and reused and recycled, but not reduced... just 2 of those 3 R's >> from the first time I read it. Talk about a concise story illustrating a common error folks make all the time, in global settings and in local ones too.  I think this cute little story begs a few questions.

Why did the monkey put himself in such risk to "help" another creature?
<< I think he was courageous, noble, and even a little bit over-zealous.  I think his intentions were both genuine and good. >>

What did the monkey assume about fish culture?
<< He made a crucial assumption that what's good for him is also good for the fish. >>

What could the monkey do differently next time?
<< How about asking the fish what its needs are?  >>

Have you ever found yourself acting like a fish in a room full of monkeys?  Have you ever been treated like a fish when you are, in fact, the monkey?

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