the hundredth monkey

The Hundredth Monkey Effect is a hypothetical phenomenon in which a behavior or idea is adopted by all members of the same group at the same time, despite being geologically separate and physically unconnected.

It is explained by a story about a group of monkeys on one island who began washing sweet potatoes in the ocean, while at the same time, monkeys of the same species on another island began the same behavior.

The general idea is that things will happen when they are meant to happen, that there is an underlying connection between us all and that there is a universal design to our ideas and behaviors.

The phenomenon, as it has been described, has no real scientific grounds and has been discredited in the scientific community. Nonetheless, it is an interesting concept to ponder and it seems quite impossible to prove that there is no universal force that connects us all.

The real story of The Hundreth Monkey is more likely a story about a logical, cyclical progression of learning and observation. Common organisms interacting with similar environments in advantageous ways. This is how all behavior forms. I learn to do something new that benefits me, you observe, you mimic me and adopt the behavior, and you benefit.

This process of learning and observation, if you really think about it, is just as fascinating and magical as the hundredth monkey phenomenon. Our ideas and behaviors make us who we are and we learn them from our environment - so we are ultimately a creation and culmination of the things in our environment. And we all become part of the interwoven fabric of energy that compromises our environment. No more will you notice this than when you are a parent. And when you are a parent of twins, it’s twice as noticeable.

I’m hyper aware now, that everything I do is being observed and will likely be mimicked. That can feel overwhelming at times. What if I teach them the wrong things? But is also very powerful in a positive way. If I have good ideas and exhibit good behaviors, I now have the opportunity to multiply their impact by three.

If I take good care of nature because it is essential, perhaps they will too and there will be three of us planting flowers trees in the earth. If I care for animals because they deserve to live, maybe there will be three of us working to improve the conditions for domestic and farm animals. If I am empathetic toward other humans because we all have our reasons, there could be three of us trying to be good to other men, women and children.

I know that I won’t always teach the girls the best way to do things and they won’t always do what I do. I might wash sweet potatoes in the ocean, and they might eat them right from the ground.

But, hell, our oceans are awfully big and could be clean for washing from where I am and dirty from their position. And their sweet potatoes could be cleaner right out of the ground than they are where I am. And all our oceans and sweet potatoes will change over time. My little girl’s will live in a different world than I’ve lived in. Maybe they will know more about the world in the future than I do. Maybe it’s better to wash the sweet potatoes in the ocean today, but not tomorrow.

I’m not so focused on teaching them how to do things, as much as I am focused on trying to teach them why to do things.

If I do this, when it’s time for them to decide what to do with the sweet potatoes in their world, they’ll know what to do.