Saturday, January 12, 2008

Human kindness is not kindness at all, especially concerning our dealings with the wild animals in our midst. Now that the fine for feeding the wild monkeys at Upper Seletar Reservoir has skyrocketed, the monkeys -- spoilt by years of living off human handouts -- have pretty much forgotten how to forage for themselves in the forest and are instead moving to the edge of human habitation in search of food.

We were at Casuarina Road today where we saw families of monkeys dangling on tree branches hanging over the public parking lot. There were monkeys on the street and clambering over the parked cars as well. They've never come this close to our space before, but hunger is making them stupid, making them lose their natural caution of us.

I can imagine what will happen next. People are going to complain to the authorities. Their homes will be invaded by desperate monkeys. Their cars will be scratched and shat upon by monkeys who know not the value of COE-enhanced automobile luxury in Singapore. Several will get killed by passing traffic, and when the authorities arrive, well, let's just say there'll be a significant reduction in the primate population in our protected rainforest.

What's happening to these monkeys is our fault. Our acts of kindness and charity sometimes do the greatest harm to others. But it's probably happened many times before as human civilizations encountered one another. Apart from bringing warfare and disease, we've also killed each other with a similar brand of misguided goodwill.

It's hard, but sometimes, the greater kindness is to say, "No. Go away!"

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