Even Monkeys Know What’s Fair

In Frans de Waal’s TED talk (April 2012), he shared how even animals have moral behaviour. What many have gotten out of this – also the funniest 2-3 minutes of the talk – is that even monkeys reject unequal pay, what more us as humans, so hold up your banners and shout “Occupy Wall Street!”

(Spoiler alert!) I burst out laughing when the monkey rejected a slice of cool cucumber, hurling it at the researcher after seeing its fellow monkey get a juicy red grape for completing the exact same task. Giving the middle finger, the capuchin way.

It was unfair, getting an inferior reward for performing the exact same task. I can’t agree about the experiment being a parallel to the Occupy Wall Street movement though… bankers do a different job from the construction workers and lawyers. It stands that the different jobs should command different pay, though I do agree some financial types are earning way too much money…

[p.s. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard isn’t the same thing. There, it’s about God’s generousity, as He pays all his workers the same despite when they were hired. That and there are many instances all throughout where Christians are called to be fair and just.]

But I digress. Bosses should certainly watch this video. If even the monkeys know what’s unfair, you bet your employees do.

My takeaway is to grit my teeth, work hard and do my work well. Even if it seems useless to serve God, to make a conscious choice not to play the game. It was true in Malachi’s time, and it’s true now: “And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” (Mal 3:15, ESV)

Why? Because I know God’s got everything in control, and the unjust will get their comeuppance one day. He will put things right one day. He’s just delaying it to give more people the chance to realise they need God. And this is how I choose to respond to injustice in the world.

Then I will draw near to you for judgement. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

– Malachi 3:5, ESV (emphasis mine)


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