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The Monkey and the Cats – A fable Revisited for Social Media and Media

Let us revisit the old-school fable with a few twists to keep in touch with modern times. Also let us get to know what happened after the monkey ate both the pieces of cake. Here goes the new story:

Once upon a time, in jungle land, lived two cats Katty and Kitty. At the wedding of two zebras, Katty saw a piece of cake and joyfully meowed. It went towards the cake, but Kitty was closer and she jumped on the cake first. This led to a cat-fight. “I saw the cake first.” “But, I jumped on it first.” “No, but I saw it first.” The quarrel was disturbing the mood of the peaceful wedding and the animals were unhappy. They thought of taking the two cats to the wise tortoise. But, the tortoise was hibernating in its shell and didn’t wish to see anyone. The number of people approaching the tortoise daily were one too many for him, and he didn’t have the capacity to handle a cat-fight!

The entire wedding party was fed up of the two cats. Seeing this, a monkey decided to solve this problem. He asked the cats to stop fighting and to divide the cake equally. He divided the cake between them. But then he said, “Katty’s piece looks greater than Kitty’s.” Kitty started meowing wildly in anger, so he decide to eat a small piece off Katty’s cake. Then he said, “Now Kitty’s cake has grown bigger”, and thus took a bite off hers. This went on and finally he ate the entire piece of cake, while the cats went back home disappointed. Seeing this heroic act of the monkey, the entire wedding party applauded him. The monkey realized this was a great profession – where he got all the cake and all the applause.

So, the monkey went about solving similar problems of the jungle land. Although the real authority to decide on these matters was the wise tortoise, but he was too slow and people liked the speedy monkey. Seeing this monkey, many other monkeys were also inspired and started taking up this profession of dispensing speedy justice. The monkeys had become the heroes of the jungle.

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But, the monkeys were a greedy breed. The cake was all that mattered to most of them. Knowing this, a group of jackals invited the monkeys to a feast. The jackals were a bunch of powerful folk in this jungle. Some of them were wealthy and owned most of the jungle food, while others were very popular as the innocent people of the jungle found them very kind and friendly. The jackals had won the confidence of the jungle-folk by taking up emotional causes like human encroachment, and by always opposing the rules of the lion – the ruler of the jungle.

But, in reality, the kindness and the care for the people was just a façade. The jackals were an extremely cunning and shrewd lot. What they were really seeking was no good of the jungle folk, but power for themselves. They wanted to be greater than the lion himself! So, they decided to get the monkeys to do their dirty job. They told the monkeys, “Dear monkey brethren, you guys are doing a fantastic job in the jungle. Also, we can see that you are relishing the cake of both the fighting animals! But now, instead of eating the cake of both animals, why don’t you eat the cake of only one of them?” “But we won’t get enough cake then!” lamented the monkeys. “Don’t worry about that. Leave it to us. For every piece of cake you don’t get to eat, we will give you five pieces of cake.” “Five pieces!” the monkeys screeched in excitement. “But there is only one condition! We will decide whose cake you should eat, and whose you should not”. The monkeys agreed!

From now on, every time two creatures fought, the monkey would favour one of them and eat up the cake of the other, just like the jackals ordered. Some creatures were favoured again and again, while others were always at a loss. Those who were friends with the lion were generally always the losers! The jackals gave the monkeys a lot of cake and other jungle luxuries in return for their service. Meanwhile, they gained power in the jungle as their supporters and their ideas were getting increasingly popular.

While everything appeared to be going well for everyone, relationships in the jungle actually started worsening. Among the creatures, two groups were formed. Those whose cake was being eaten, and those whose cake the monkeys were protecting. The group whose cake was being eaten started believing that the other group of creatures had started taking away all their cake unfairly and started despising this group. The group which the monkeys were favouring started believing that the cake they deserved would have been snatched away by the other creatures if the monkeys were not protecting them. They started loathing the other set of creatures. Poison was sowed between these two groups of creatures.  The monkeys who were supposed to resolve issues of the jungle, were in fact, dividing the jungle. Hate and venom were spreading all around.

While most animals were busy in strengthening their own group and hating the other group, two wise elephants from either side realized that there was a problem. To solve this problem, they came up with an idea! They got the entire jungle together near the common river and loudly trumpeted, “There was so much love in our jungle. But, we have now started hating each other. Friends have turned enemies, and creatures are constantly fighting. Isn’t it so?” The entire jungle-folk agreed that there was a genuine problem.

This is because the monkeys are not doing enough study before making their decisions, and are passing biased judgements. But, in place of hating the monkeys, we have started hating each other! This is exactly what they want! Let us not give in to this hate. Let us take ownership of our own issues.” They decided to install an ‘Issue Box’ in the middle of the jungle. Every day when an issue would break out, creatures would write what they had seen and witnessed and put it in the box. Creatures would write their own opinions. Every evening, the jungle would gather and read out the facts and opinions given out by everyone, and the creatures could examine the evidence and decide for themselves.

The power of the monkeys started declining. Many times, the issues raised in the Issue Box were against the monkeys themselves! These issues were about how the monkeys were not giving fair justice to everyone. The famous monkeys, who had become heroes, were being exposed and were becoming villains. The monkeys knew they had no official authority over the jungle-folk, and their power was because they were seen by people as fair and trustworthy! But now, this power was waning. Some creatures had heard of their deal with the jackals and were exposing it in front of the entire jungle. The credibility of the monkeys was going downhill.

The tortoise was the only one who had the official right to decide on these issues. But while the tortoise moved in its own sweet pace, the monkeys had become the only way for people to decide right from wrong. But after the Issue box, the creatures had become empowered to learn and decide for themselves leaving the monkey with only two options – either brainwash people as per the jackals’ agenda, or accept they were not fair and start getting fair in their dealings with the jungle-folk. The jungle-folk were still willing to accept the monkeys if they acknowledged their mistakes. Will the monkeys change their behaviour in times of the Issue Box?

Will the mainstream media get any fairer in the times of social media? Will they realize that their charades will get exposed and the only option they have is to research before spreading news and to become truly objective? Or will they risk all their credibility to push the agenda of their masters? Only time will tell the entire story. But one thing is for certain – people won’t get fooled any longer!

Moral of the story: When you quarrel, someone else gains. But when you realize your own power, you can show that someone else its rightful place!

– by @shreyansmehta

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