It all started with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, a banana was hung on a string and a set of stairs was placed under it. Before long, a monkey went to the stairs and started to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touched the stairs, all of the other monkeys were sprayed with cold water. After a while, another monkey made an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys were sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, anytime another monkey tried to climb the stairs, the other monkeys tried to prevent it.
After a couple of days, the cold water was removed. One monkey was removed from the cage and replaced with a new one. The new monkey saw the banana and wanted to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror , all of the other monkeys attacked him. After another attempt and attack, he knew that if he tried to climb the stairs, he would be assaulted.
Next, another of the original five monkeys was removed and replaced it with a new one. The newcomer went to the stairs and was attacked. The previous newcomer took part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, a third original monkey was replaced with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey took to the stairs, he was attacked. Most of the monkeys that were beating him had no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they were participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys had ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approached the stairs to try for the banana.
Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around here. And that, is how most of our rituals and customs began.