We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.
Breakfast of Champions, 1973
Once upon a time there were some monkeys. They lived in a cage. One day they awoke to notice that a ladder had been placed right in the middle of the cage. Under the ladder hanging invitingly by a thread was a banana. It wasn't very long before one monkey began to climb the ladder. But as soon as it did so, icy cold water sprayed down on all the monkeys. This happened each and every time one monkey set paw upon the ladder. Very soon each and every monkey was on the look out least one of its companions would try to climb the ladder. How the monkeys hated that water. They hated it so much they quickly learnt to attack any would be banana questor. In time the monkeys simply learnt to ignore the banana. It was as if it were not there at all. It was a taste too far. And then one day a new monkey arrived in the cage. It wasn't very long before the new monkey saw the banana and began to climb the ladder. Immediately it was set up by the other monkeys and thrashed severely. It quickly discovered that the banana was taboo. As days went by more monkeys from elsewhere found themselves in the cage. Each in turn learnt the lesson. Typically it was the recent victims that punished the new transgressor the most. In fact the monkeys were so busy punishing each other that they failed to notice that their numbers were remaining mysteriously the same. For every new monkey that appeared in the cage one of the original monkeys was removed. It wasn't too long before every original monkey had gone. It wasn't long until there wasn't a single monkey in the cage that had experienced the icy deluge. In fact it wasn't long before no monkey had any memory of why it was wrong to reach for the banana. It simply became something that was not done. It became something that almost could not be done, because it was beyond the imagination, and spending all their time in the cage imagination was something the monkeys had very little of.
And imagine something else. The banana that remained there, day after day, so wholesome, so free from decay - the banana was plastic.
The real fruit, the real reality was this: the cage door was open...
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