Thursday, 31 May 2007

Doing the Fourth Monkey Tango


As a kid I always hated the three monkeys. They gave me the creeps and, more importantly, they irritated me. I could understand the "Speak no evil", but "See no evil"? How could you improve the world, or yourself, if you refused to see evil? To me it sounded too much like saying "Ignore anything bad", which sounded pretty dumb to my serious-child brain.

Looking back on my life I can't help feeling I have spent my entire life struggling to get my monkeys in a row.

The word "evil" is way too harsh, so we'll ditch it and insert "flaws". I see flaws. I always have. Errors, flaws, inconsistencies, irregularities.. I'm the first to notice them. Then I'm left wondering if I sit there with my monkey paws over my mouth or do I tell what I see?

Neither way seems to bring any satisfaction.

I don't like hurting people's feelings or causing conflict, but when you sit with your paws over your mouth too long you tend to self-implode. Especially if you were born an opinionated monkey who sees too much!

And when you do say what you see? The old saying of shooting the messenger comes to mind. I've been "shot" regularly for saying what I see.

Great choices.. get shot or explode.

In my first job I chose to speak what I saw with a co-worker. She was running down another religion. Not my religion, but the belief system of a close friend. Her opinions were based purely on "urban myth" and gossip.. so I told her where her ideas were flawed. By the end of the day she had in turn told everyone at work that I was a rabid member of this religion. When I corrected that and explained about my friend.. she old everyone that I was in love with a person of this religion. Ugh!

My friend thought it was hilarious - both because he was eight years younger than me and viewed me as way too ancient to be girlfriend potential, but also because I had once defended my co-worker's religion to him when he'd made a rude joke about that religion. He admitted that he had thought I was a member of that religion!!

So both sides thought I belonged to the other side religion because I pointed out the inconsistencies in their opinions of each other.

Does your head hurt reading that? Mine did experiencing it, I tell you!

And it's never stopped. I always manage to find myself in the middle trying to mediate.. getting shot by both sides. You think I'd learn, but I never do. I'm the fourth monkey.. you never see him. He's the monkey dancing with his foot in his mouth.

Recently I've found myself doing the fourth monkey one-footed tango on blogger. I pointed out some things that bothered me about religion on two blogs and ended up sounding like I believed things I didn't on one and disbelieved things I didn't on the other. I managed to talk my way out of my own "monkey foot in mouth" on both blogs, but I still feel cross with myself that I did it again.

Why do I do that to myself? Why can't I just "see nothing" and therefore find it easy to" say nothing"?

I could blame it on my make-up, (I'm a bossy "let me fix you" Leo heavily overlaid with peace-maker PR expert Cat/Rabbit) but that opens an entirely new can of flawed worms, errors and inconsistencies. I'm the astrologer that doesn't believe in a large chunk of astrology. That irritates everyone except the seriously laid-back sorts. If I hang out with astrology fans I often say nothing or walk away because I don't want to hurt their feelings that I don't believe what they believe. (except one laid-back friend/astrologer who feels similar enough to understand) If I hang out with astrology sceptics I just get myself into frustrated monkey-puzzle knots because they either think I am something I'm not, believe things I don't - or they don't bother to listen to me at all.

But you know what is really ironic? A lot of the time I like doing the fourth monkey tango. When it works it's incredibly satisfying. I've managed to make fundamentalist friends see each other's point of view, I've healed rifts in family feuds and I've even managed to get a few people to think outside the box.

Admittedly I've also been accused of taking sides, trampled, verbally "tarred and feathered" and regularly mistaken for believing strongly in what I defend. I defend whatever I see as unfair, that does NOT mean I believe in it. It just means that I feel the topic/ idea/opinion being attacked has the right to a fair trial.

Maybe the fourth monkey should have taken up law rather than dance classes?

No, forget that! Dancing monkeys are cute. People like dancing monkeys. I think I'll stick to doing the fourth monkey tango. ;-)


  1. He he...dunno why I smile a lot when reading this post of yours. :-)))

    And yes, just keep on being the fourth monkey. Sometimes I also try HARD to make people understand my views. If I think one of my friends misunderstands me, then I'll bombard her with emails, explaining what I truly want to say.

    In the end it all comes back to the person. No matter how hard I try, if she can't see it still, then so be it. At least God knows what's inside our hearts.

  2. LOL

    I know about bombarding. I do it too. :-P Sometimes when I'm trying to make someone understand me I go on so long they say "Can't you LEAVE it now, PLEASE???"

    I really like this:
    "In the end it all comes back to the person. No matter how hard I try, if she can't see it still, then so be it. At least God knows what's inside our hearts."

    Very true! Thanks, I needed that reminder today.

  3. He he he he...nice to find something in common. LOL!!!

    Well, nobody's ever said those words to me, but I could sense them saying in their brains, "Hello? It's allright. I don't need as much explanation. I get it, OK?"

    He he he he he...

  4. With people I don't know I tend to be the "speak no evil" monkey, but with friends I am the "Foot in Mouth" one.
    At least, my friends know that with me it is: WYSIWYG!

  5. See no evil is really boring. I mean, you coudln't watch porn!

    I can understand the hear no evil, since porn has crappy music anyways....

    Speak no evil, well, I'm usually gagged anyways...

    : P

    I know, I'm terrible, terrible person, aren't I

  6. Hi Epi (I'm not trying to spell/type that name!)

    Thanks for dropping by, foot or no foot.


    I can't think of any reply that doesn't sound like a double-meaning! ROFL

  7. I don't know. I think that you should speak when it is important to you. People are free to believe what they want. You can't change their minds anyway. As you know, I get pretty spiritual on my blog, but I know that most people don't exactly share my beliefs. I don't care. They are still relevent.

    I love to discuss things and differences. I embrace those type of conversations. However, I try to voice my opinion in a way that doesn't imply that another is not respected. If people have a problem with that, then they are the ones with the problems.

  8. Thanks Jeff

    You not only validated my feelings, but also some goodsound advice. I'm really glad I've come to meet you. :-)

  9. Hi, Michelle! Most of the time, I’m trying to be neutral but it is still not easy for me in a situation like when two of my friends are disagreeing on something or not satisfied with one’s work, one of them will ask for my opinion or just talk bad about the other one and the next minute the other friend came and do the same...So, my job is not to be a peacemaker but to be at both sides! In the end, I could end up being the two faces. I just don’t know which type of ‘monkey’ would do the best, just be myself I guess.

  10. Hi CM girl

    It is hard because even being neutral you can end up looking like you didn't care or were "two-faced" as you say.

    I suppose we all just muddle along trying as best we can. Maybe that's the point? As long as we all realise it is hard to be human we can be more tolerant? THat would be nice! To see the funny side instead of getting "touchy". Like seeing more choc mint in the world. :-)



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