Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Lessons in freedom... from Orangutans

One day at the National Zoo in Washington, I got the most interesting lessons in freedom from two Orangutans.

Their keeper poured lots of apples and oranges from a large basket onto the floor of their exhibit. The Orangutans immediately leaped down from the trees, and aggressively began collecting all of the apples and oranges, stuffing fruit in their mouths, under their arms, and anywhere else they could stash it.

Then they labored back up into the trees, and sat an arms distance from each other. One Orangutan offered the other an apple, and got an orange in exchange. Then the same trade was made again, and again, until one Orangutan ended up with all the apples and the other ended up with all the oranges.

If that is the result they wanted, it would have been easier for one ape to pick up all the apples and the other to pick up all the oranges. That's just not how Orangutans were endowed by their creator. To deny the competition is to deny who Orangutans are. To try to change who the Orangutans are would only frustrate us and them.

The journey was integral to their pursuit of happiness. The Orangutans were much happier in the end from having gone through this exhilarating experience than they would have been had they skipped that part and tamely picked up the fruit. Their hearts pumped, their nostrils flared, and life was just more fun the way they did it.

The fact that the Orangutans are created equal, doesn't mean that they ended up with an equal result. Each had the liberty to pursue their own happiness, and the magic of their marketplace ended up delivering what each wanted, and that wasn't the same thing.

Here's wishing you a wonderful fourth of July.

No comments: