Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Of Monkeys and Traditions

I just read an interesting story about how traditions begin. It seems as if some scientists wanted to conduct an experiment to see if they could determine behavior. They placed five monkeys in a closed cage with a set of steps in the middle. They hung a banana from the top of the cage that was only accessible by climbing the steps. As soon as the first monkey started up the steps, they drenched the other four monkeys with cold water. They kept repeating this procedure. Each time a monkey climbed the steps to retrieve the banana they hosed the other monkeys with cold water. The results of the experiment were fascinating.

At first the monkeys that did not climb the stairs would run for cover as soon as one of the monkeys ascended the first step. But they could not escape the cold water. They then started violently beating any monkey that started to climb up the steps. The scientists stopped spraying them with cold water when this happened. Soon no monkey would try to climb the steps; instead, they would sit and ignore the food.

Then the scientists removed one monkey from the group and replaced it with a monkey that had never experienced the cold water. Soon that monkey would start up the steps and get thrashed for the effort. The scientists then removed another of the original monkeys and watched as this monkey tried to climb the stairs to the banana. The other monkeys would beat the newcomer, even the monkey that was not part of the original group learned to beat any monkey that dared climb the stairs in spit eof never experiencing the cold water.

The scientists eventually replaced all five of the original monkeys with monkeys that never experienced the cold water. All five would just sit and ignore the banana, refusing to climb the stairs, even though they had no first-hand experience as to why stair climbing led to beatings. They learned and practiced tradition over first-hand experience.

Men, how many of us are like those replacement monkeys, blindly following traditions without knowing -- or caring to know -- the reason behind the traditions? Have we been so conditioned by society that we blindly follow others' orders and adjust our typical way of doing things without questioning why? Have we been so conditioned by traditions and the "We've always done it that way," mentality that we are blind to all non-traditional methods and procedures?

Men, I am going to challenge you to forget your comfort zone of easy excuses and step up to be a leader in your family. Be a leader that prays out loud -- daily, sings out loud -- in church, and is seen to be a lifelong learner -- by actually reading a book.

It's my guess that not too many of us do all three. Why? We have never done it that way before.

No comments :