Have you read the book, Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn? If not, don’t worry because I’ve never read it either. But, I’ve heard a story from the book or a similar story from somewhere else. The story in the book applies to many of us, and to human nature in general. And, apparently, from the story in the book, it also applies to animals too. It is about being caught in a Monkey trap, and refusing to let go of something even if letting go will set you free. According to the story in the book, monkeys were becoming a nuisance and stealing the farmer’s crops in India. The farmers didn’t want to kill the monkeys; they just wanted to relocate them to a different area. However, monkeys are very fast and agile, so catching one was extremely difficult. After watching the monkey’s behavior, one farmer came upon a solution. He got a coconut and drilled a small hole into it; then he put a banana inside the coconut. Once the coconut was loaded with the banana, the farmer tied it to a tree and then sat back to wait to see if his monkey trap would work.
A monkey would come along, smell the banana, and stick his hand inside the small hole to grab the food. Once the monkey had the banana in his grasp, he would try to pull it out, but the opening of the hole was too small. The monkey’s hand was now in a fist with the banana inside, and his hand was too big to fit through the opening. The only way that the monkey could get the coconut off of his hand would be to let go of the banana. But, the monkey refused to let go, and the farmer was able to catch the monkey and relocate him.
The point of this story is that we all grab on to things that will harm us in the long run, but we refuse to let them go. Why do we do this? Why do we make a clenched fist when an open palm would set us free? Is it greed? Is it fear?
The monkey was looking for food, and it wasn’t like he had a supermarket that he could find his next banana. So, maybe for him, it was fear of not knowing when he would get to eat again. Or, maybe the monkey was fat and full, but he wasn’t going to let go of the banana for some other less deserving monkey to eat. So, maybe it was greed that kept him captured.
The year 2020 has taught us a lot about ourselves. All we have to do is think about toilet paper to see how greed and fear have both been a part of our culture. No one wants to run out of toilet paper, and since the stores couldn’t guarantee when the next shipment was coming in, everyone started buying toilet paper in massive amounts. I am willing to bet that most of us have at least a month or two supply on our shelves. I admit that I have several packs in my pantry right now.
The hoarding of toilet paper got so bad that the stores had to start limiting how many packs that an individual could purchase. Why would the “store” have to restrict our buying habits? It was a matter of greed and fear combined that created this buying spree, and some individuals were left without because the store shelves would be empty.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook about scoring one large pack of toilet paper in a warehouse store. She was thrilled because she was almost out, and she couldn’t believe her luck since it was the last one on the shelves. As she continued to shop, this older man asked her where she found the paper. She told him where the toilet paper was, but also said to him that she didn’t think that there was any more left. This same little man kept running into her while she continued shopping, and each time he would ask her the same thing. After she got home and was putting away her prized toilet paper, it dawned on her that she should have either given him the paper or at least shared with him once she had gotten outside the store. She posted this message because she said that she realized she had “failed” and let greed and fear keep her captured.
My friend did nothing wrong, but she missed an opportunity to show compassion and empathy to someone who was in need. She wasn’t deliberately greedy since she was also in need, and the thought of helping out the man came to her only after the opportunity was gone. This has happened to me also more times than I would like to admit. I have often said that Joe is way more giving and compassionate than I am. He sees the need before I do, and then he will act on his impulse. I don’t have a problem with giving, but I am sometimes blind to seeing a need. I can only see the need after he points it out, and then I feel guilty and ashamed that I overlooked the issue.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Satan is like the monkey farmer, and he studies our behavior to see what monkey trap to set for us. He knows our weaknesses, and he is giddy when we grab hold of something and refuse to let it go. My hand has been so tightly clenched around something, and I forget to open my palm and let others have some. I pray that the Lord will open my eyes to those in need and that He will open my heart to give what I have freely.
To God Goes The Glory!
Have A Blessed Day!