Call it an allegory or a fable, a parable or a proverb or whatever. Its key feature is the realistic thought or practical lesson forwarded by the known saying in the realm of what is right and proper what is true and real. And this is exactly the content and intent of the famous--or infamous--story of “The Three Monkeys.” The story goes that there were these three monkeys sitting down in a row--each one making a gesture as a sign of what everyone of them is all about.
The first one has his hands covering his two eyes to mean that he sees nothing--nothing good, nothing bad. The second monkey has his two hands covering his two ears to convey the message that he hears nothing--nothing right, nothing wrong. The third money has his both hands covering his mouth to signify that he is saying nothing--nothing true, nothing false. So it is that three monkeys represent the stance of people who see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing. These are wherefore portrayed as individuals pretending to be not only blind, but also deaf and dumb--exactly like the three monkeys.
Needless to say, the likes of the three monkeys are big liabilities of society--in terms of people living in these difficult and trying times. When men are killed everyday in many places and in many ways, when women are customarily violated in their inherent dignity and physical integrity, when children are abducted for whatever evil reason--people who play blind, deaf, and dumb become social liabilities themselves. When politicians rob the citizens of the continuous taxes the latter pay, assiduously serve themselves instead of others, abuse their authority and power against the very individuals who put them in office and shoulder the costs of all their luxurious expenses--people who pretend to be blind, deaf, and dumb lose their right to have honest and sincere public servants. When the government is precisely either really incapable of serving or in fact incapacitated from ruling--people who act as if they are blind, deaf, and dumb deserve the pathetic government they thus have.
But wait! These trying times have even brought about a fourth monkey: One that does nothing. Yes! This fourth monkey can see, hear, and talk. But act he does not. Lo and behold! He sits comfortably, has his hands cozily folded as he listens to what is taking place, merely looks at what people are doing--and that’s it! But when the right time comes, when the right occasion and opportunity are present, this monkey jumps to action--denouncing what is wrong, etc. and eventually announcing his availability to serve the people, to save the country, etc.
Call this fourth monkey an astute one, a smart aleck, a good opportunist or whatever. But the advisory is the same: Beware of the “Fourth Monkey!”