Monkey's Paw Wishes and the Consequences of Want

"On a wet and windy night, John White, along with his wife and son, Herbert, await the arrival of an old friend, Sergeant Morris, who has been stationed in India for several years and has just recently returned home.

When the guest arrives, the conversation soon turns to the mysteries of India. Mr. White is fascinated by the discussion of far away places and ideas. During the conversation, we learn that Morris has brought back a very unusual artifact—the mummified paw of a monkey which carries with it a magic spell which can bring three different men three separate wishes.

Morris makes it very clear that though the wishes are always granted, the results always bring disaster. He explains that he had gotten the paw from it's first owner—whose third and last wish was for death. Morris also explains that he himself had three wishes—thus leaving one more set of three wishes.

The Sergeant, feeling that the paw has done enough damage, throws it into the fireplace to burn. Mr. White grabs it from the fire, and Morris warns White that he should let it burn. Mr. White, though, keeps the paw and even forces Morris to accept a few dollars for it.

After dinner Sergeant Morris leaves. Herbert scoffs and makes fun of the idea that the paw can make wishes come true, but recommends that his father wish for twenty-five thousand dollars. Herbert, who works the late shift at a nearby dam, leaves for work, and Mr. and Mrs. White go to bed.

The next morning, while the Whites are fixing breakfast, a man from the dam comes to tell them that Herbert has been killed in an accident at work and that they are named as beneficiary on the insurance policy—a policy for twenty-five thousand dollars.

The Whites bury their son in a nearby cemetery. A few days later, the distraught Mrs. White remembers the monkey's paw and its two remaining wishes and insists that her husband wish Herbert back to life. Later there is a pounding at the front door, but the latch is stuck. Mrs. White, believing it is Herbert, hurries down to open the door. The door latch is stuck; an instant before Mrs. White can get the door to open, Mr. White grabs the paw and makes a final wish. He wishes his son dead and at peace. The knocking ceases."

– The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs (1902)

 

Modern life is chock full of compromises based upon the specific things we really want but probably don't need. More important, the consequences of these unnecessary but tasty treats are often far worse than we could possibly imagine.

WE WISH FOR:
Easy access to credit and loans so that we can buy things that we want but probably don't need.
WHAT THE MONKEY'S PAW GIVES US:
39% interest rates that obliterate the possibility of ever getting out of debt.

WE WISH FOR:
Cheap goods and services.
WHAT THE MONKEY'S PAW GIVES US:
The slow demise of American factories and the destruction of unions.

WE WISH FOR:
Amazing smartphones and computing devices.  Computers that once took up whole rooms that can fit in our back pocket.
WHAT THE MONKEY'S PAW GIVES US:
Sweatshops and the economic subjugation of the Chinese workers, which, in turn, begins the global economic domination of China.

WE WISH FOR:
Fast food.
WHAT THE MONKEY'S PAW GIVES US:
Fat food.

WE WISH FOR:
The ability to fully interact with society via Facebook and Twitter thus making these platforms the crucial information dispersal forums for our news, our facts, our beliefs and our activism.
WHAT THE MONKEY'S PAW GIVES US:
Propaganda, relentless sales pitches and President Donald Trump.

In an age of immediacy—instant information with a few keystrokes, instant food through a drive-through window, instant withdrawals from our bank accounts (although six weeks to get any of it back.)—we want things but don't take the time to truly look and see what the concomitant consequences will be should we get them.

Americans want security. We want to feel that we can walk out of our homes and not be assaulted for the $8.35 we have in our pockets. We want to be able to go downtown in a major city and conveniently avoid being blown up by someone who sees our country as the enemy. So we tend to turn a blind eye on the system required to guarantee that security. We allow our government to send drones overseas and blow other people up. We bitch and moan about the military industrial complex but we don't do anything about it. We voice our negative opinion of Stop and Frisk policies but when it comes to really doing something about it, we falter.

Because these are all things that come with the wish upon the Monkey's Paw.

Americans want privacy. But we also want security. Oh, fuck. That Monkey's Paw Mephistopheles gets us every time, right?

WE WISH FOR:
The impeachment of Donald Trump.
WHAT THE MONKEY'S PAW GIVES US:
President Mike Pence.

Make the knocking cease.