Three wise monkeys

Published: Mon, 03/25/24

I must have been about 12 years old when I first saw the original Planet of the Apes film at an after school film club. I have seen it several times since, the most recently being a couple of weeks ago at our church film group. This time I noticed something which had escaped my attention before. In the tribunal scene where the human Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) is on trial for his life three Orangutans sit in judgment. When the chimpanzees Zia and Cornelius (Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowel) make an impassioned plea on Taylor’s behalf one Orangutan covers his eyes, another his mouth, and the third his ears, yes, three wise monkeys. I somehow doubt these gestures were in the script, maybe the actors though it would be amusing to see if anyone noticed? Either way you can check out the clip on Youtube and see for yourself (link below).
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil seems to be what is expected of ordinary British people, especially when it comes to awkward subjects like Gaza for example. In my experience current tragic events are rarely mentioned in polite conversation. If the subject does come up there will be muttering about a certain country defending itself and the conversation returns to really important subjects such as gardening, the weather, pets, or property prices.
On Friday evening I attended a Reform party meeting in Bilton (a village on the East side of Hull). I was mildly interested in hearing what might be said about the party’s intentions to make a difference at the next election and there was a question I wanted to ask. There were about 30 people there, mainly older disaffected former Tory supporters. They seemed a well meaning bunch and there was talk of lower taxes, improving the NHS, more police on the streets, and getting a grip on immigration. There was a lot of nostalgia for the world most of us had grown up in between 1960 and 1990. On one level I am quite a natural fit for an alternative right of centre party like Reform. However, there was a question I needed to ask.
‘What did Reform learn from the result of the Rochdale by election held on the 29th of February?” George Galloway won with nearly 40% of the vote, the reform candidate came last with just over 6%. Second place was taken by a local independent and the three mainstream parties only did slightly better than Reform. The turnout was only 40% but the voters who did bother to cast a ballot were clearly in the mood for an alternative to the usual suspects. Reform, however failed to capitalise on this opportunity. The answer I got to my questions was just that no one knew if the party had learned anything or not. The local representatives had no reflection on the matter at all, other than surprise at Galloway’s victory.
I can’t claim to be surprised at such a response. However, the total lack of political sophistication demonstrated was a little disappointing. What Galloway’s victory showed me was some wise monkeys are now seeing, hearing, and speaking about the evil which goes on in the world. A great deal has changed in the world since the last British general election. 2019 now seems like another age rather than just five years ago. When the election does come many people will be voting with very different attitudes and with radically different priorities than they did in 2019. The wise monkeys who have opened their eyes and ears will be asking questions which too few asked before March 2020.
Questions such as:
Does modern Israel have any more right to exist than any other ethnocentric European colonial settler project such as Rhodesia or white controlled South Africa?
Do health services provided on the basis of germ theory just enrich pharmaceutical corporations at the expense and to the detriment of the well being of ordinary people?
Am I and my family really willing to be poor, cold, hungry, and restricted in my travel for the sake of reducing output of a gas which plants need to flourish?
Why does NATO still exist when the Soviet Union was dissolved over 30 years ago and all that the alliance is achieving now is driving Russia to be more successful, better led, and militarily more capable than it has ever been?
Is there a better way of doing money that doesn’t involve inflation which erodes personal wealth, builds up national debts into the tens of trillions of dollars, while turning a few people into billionaires?
The list could go on but this will do for today. It used to be that the wise monkeys did not used to notice such issues and certainly did not want them discussed in polite society. Now the wiser monkeys want some answers and this demand is going to change the political landscape after the next election in some interesting ways.
Link to the Three Wise Monkeys scene in Planet of the Apes
Stavcamp 2024 is only for Wise Monkeys with their eyes and ears open, and willing to ask the big questions. Check it out at

Graham Butcher
21 Beaver Road
Beverley East Yorkshire HU17 0QN

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