Big Ape Politics

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As a student of political science, I spent much time reading various theories of politics. None of the ones in the textbooks were anywhere near as convincing as what I found in Tarzan novels.

It came to me in a flash. I was reading about Peter the Great’s visit to London, and what a shambles he and his entourage made of the lovely house which had been provided for him. Did these men not know what a stairway was for? Did they not know not to ride their horses on the parquet flooring? They couldn’t have made a bigger mess if they’d been a tribe of apes…

Eureka!

In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan stories, the apes are always competing with one another, often violently, to see who gets the most food, the most matings, the best place to sleep, and so on. And the ape who gets the most of everything, the biggest and the strongest and the meanest ape, gets to be king. Until a younger, stronger ape comes along and takes it away from him.

Holy cow! Politics!

It really is about who gets to have the most of everything–the most power, the most prestige, the biggest heap of other people’s money… It wasn’t even Burroughs who discovered this. We find it right there in the Bible, in 1 Samuel 8:10-18, in which Samuel warned the people of Israel exactly what would happen to them if they made good their resolve to have a king.

God knows we have a terrible penchant for finding big apes to rule over us. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God warns Israel, through Moses, that if they simply must have a king, they ought to have the kind of king God recommends–a king whose duties will include writing out God’s law, longhand, word for word, every day; no foreigner, but a true Israelite; and a king who will not use his position to collect loads of wealth or a vast herd of wives.

Most of the kings they got were just big apes.

God’s guidance, and faithfulness to His word, makes us real men and women: not apes with car keys.