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A few friends of mine and I this are reading/re-reading the wonderful free book, From Dictatorship To Democracy by Gene Sharp. My favorite chapter is Chapter Three and it is entitled “Whence Comes The Power?” In this chapter, a Fourteenth Century Chinese Parable by Liu-Ju is quoted:

In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).

Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old
man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.” The small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?”

Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.

On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never
returned. The old man finally died of starvation.

Gene Sharp goes ahead to add this quote from Yu-li-zi:

“Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddle-headedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”

The pertinent question for me and I believe for my fellow Patriots is: Where does the power of the leader of any nation emanate? If we’re able to master this insight into how political power works, we’ll be better placed to exercise it. I would like therefore to go over a few key points that Liu-Ji implied in his excellent fable:

 …an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service.

It is reported that the old man SURVIVED by keeping monkeys in his service. Note that it does not say that the monkeys survived by providing service to the old man. The monkeys were capable of surviving on their own as they had for countless years before the old man came onto the scene to impose service upon them. The man was probably young when they got into his service and a generation had been born that knew only service to the man.

The man had probably performed some heroism by fencing off large chunks of land, killing the monkeys’ predators and thus the monkeys felt obligated to serve him. On the other hand, the old man may have overpowered their leader and threatened to kill them all. They could have thus been intimidated into submission.

 Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains…

The old man identified leaders based on qualities exhibited but also keeping in mind the cultural practice of the monkeys. Thus the eldest, probably also the strongest, was chosen as a leader and his/her duty was to lead the others.

 It was a rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man.

Who set the rule, I ask? Why one-tenth and not one-hundredth? Were the monkeys, which were free to gather and eat from the abundance of nature before the old man arrived on the scene, consulted on this arrangement? I’m sure there were monkeys that asked these questions of their leader. I wonder what kind of answer he gave them.

 Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged.

The interesting question that arises for me is: How did the old man, who didn’t go out to the bush to count how many fruits each monkey picked per day, know that what the monkey had declared was not 10%? Did he, with the guidance of the leader, appoint a few monkeys to do an “audit” at the end of the day as they all returned from picking fruits? Weren’t then these monkeys exempted from fruit picking and they thus enjoyed the fruit of their friends’ labour in a special place that the old man prepared for them? Didn’t they choose the 10% juiciest and largest fruits from their friends’ pile and thus ate much better than their counterparts? Given that the monkeys probably picked a large variety of fruits, they must have been spoilt for choice as the old man lavished them with fruits on end to keep them loyal to him.

Knowing that the old man was not always around and probably trusted them with the keys to the storehouse, is it not possible that these privileged monkeys could have dipped into the storehouse without his knowledge?

Did the old man really have the time and energy to flog monkeys? I have a feeling that he appointed some of the strongest ones to flog the others on his behalf.

 All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

What an interesting and revealing statement in light of the fact that there were probably several monkeys that were privileged. Were some monkeys suffering but felt that they were better off with the old man’s protection? Had he threatened them with the return of the predators to the point that they were resigned to fate? Were the young ones born into his rulership unable to connect with their past to the point that they decided to just follow? Or did the older ones, after several classes with the old man on their terrible past, pass on only the bad stories of monkeys being eaten by leopards?

Did they conveniently forget the stories of freedom? When they roamed the forests without inhibition, when they slept whenever they wanted? Was it possible that they ignored the fact that all rules were agreed upon by all monkeys?

How come, with all this suffering, they did not dare complain? Was complaining forbidden or punishable with more flogs of the cain or worse?

 One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally. The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.”

What focused questions! Not only do they go to the crux of their suffering but they are intelligently uttered by a small monkey. This monkey was probably the most bullied by the other much stronger ones that worked for the old man but nonetheless, she loved her fellow monkeys. She must have heard the stories of freedom from her mother and longed for those days to return.

As they went out to gather fruits, I guess she was quick to stray from her colleagues. She must have interacted with other monkeys that have never known any servitude. Instead of applying for asylum and staying with them, she opted to return and share these stories with her counterparts. She worked tirelessly to educate herself on how to free her people.
She cultivated boldness despite the threats and intimidations of the leader and other sycophants of the old man. On that day that she asked the question, she automatically became the leader.

Their response must have been a result of trainings that she had conducted for a selected few to teach them how they could be free and also to show them that the fruit actually was a right all the monkeys.

Why questions? BECAUSE the answer to their challenges was within them all along! Notice that the questions also came in stages and must have initially been asked to a small group of small monkeys. As the critical mass grew with the monkeys growing in knowledge and wisdom, the very freedom they had all along within them began to be manifested!

 The small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?”

After the monkeys have matured in their quest for freedom, the wise but small monkey asks the killer question that breaks the bonds of the prison they were in!

 Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.

Oh, what an awesome day that was when ALL the monkeys including the leader, one-tenth enforcers and floggers became enlightened and realized the prison they were in. How ashamed and remorseful the leader and his clique of sycophants must have been!

They, however, quickly forgave each other and devised a plan.

 On the same night, …

Why on the same night? Because no monkey, after finding out that he can free himself, would wish even a day to go by while still in bondage. The urgency of the need to escalate their freedom was born and there was no stopping it.

 …watching that the old man had fallen asleep, …

Why in the dead of the night? Why not during the full view of day where they would probably have seen better what they needed to destroy? And why wait for the old man to fall asleep? Why, when he was at his most vulnerable, did they strike?

 the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely.

Why break down all the barricades of the stockade if they were planning not to return? Because those that have broken free would not wish the same bondage they endured on others! What if the man had gone and colonized a new set of monkeys?

They destroyed the stockade ENTIRELY. They left no trace of their previous bondage.

 They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, …

Why not just leave him with the few fruits he had in storage? Because the fruits belonged to them in the first place and had to be taken back. The injustice that had been committed had to be corrected.

 brought all with them to the woods, …

Why not just kick out the old man and stay in his house, mocking his evil memory? It was because they were not motivated by revenge, they were motivated by justice. They also didn’t want to leave room for the very same evil ways to crop up once more. They left it all behind them.

 and never returned.

In mind and body, they completely forsook the dictatorial ways that they had suffered and never, ever returned to them.

 The old man finally died of starvation.

It is interesting that they left the old man alive. He was already old, they probably could have killed him and got the satisfaction that comes from having revenge but they chose to instead deny him the very thing that was keeping him alive, their SERVICE, their obedience, their allegiance.

The old man was left with only one fate. DEATH by starvation.

“Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddle-headedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”

So, whence comes the power??

For God and My Country,

 

Charles A.O. Makmot

Strategic Leadership Forum

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