Can a Squirrel and a Monkey Be Friends?

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Santa Clara University


Mark Twain tells the story of the differences he found between the animal world and the human world. Animals, he said, are more reasonable, and he proved it by teaching a cat and a dog to be friends, then putting them in a cage with a rabbit, whom they learned to accept. He gradually added a fox, a squirrel, a goose, and some doves, and finally a monkey.

He tried the same procedure with humans by putting in a cage a Roman Catholic from Tipperary and a Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Then a Greek Christian, a Muslim, a Methodist from Arkansas, a Buddhist and a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping.

After a time, he checked the cage of animals; they were living quite peaceably together. When he checked the cage of humans, he found a gory chaos of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones. No one left alive. And he says, “These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a higher court.”