One day Mom came home with a present. I think I was about 10. It was a book called, “All About Dinosaurs”. It was part of a series which I eagerly devoured as I received each new one. I probably read about 20 of them – but my favorite was “All About the Social Insects.” To this day, it amazes me how these little creatures flourish as they do.
Unlike humans, there are no internal wars within a colony – whether that colony is ants, wasps or bees. They will defend their colonies to the death against intruders – but there is no warfare amongst themselves. It’s no wonder they have been around as long as they have.
But the lesson that I learned recently spoke deeply to what is happening in America and is at the root of our problems. It is the story of co-operation – or more correctly – lack of it.
My normal routine is to take my two dogs out around 5 o’clock in the morning for their first walk of the day. When we get home, we sit in the back yard and I give them their morning treats. The last of these is always a large size Milk-Bone biscuit – commensurate with their 75 and 100 pound size. Spenser, my golden retriever and Gracie, who is a mix who looks like a small Irish Wolfhound seldom leave crumbs behind them – but the other morning they did.
The “crumb” was about one-half inch in diameter – and it happened to fall on a piece of serrated stripping that is installed in the patio deck to allow for water runoff. This strip lies directly over a colony of ants who come and go as they please and have for the 10 years I have lived here. We co-exist quite peacefully.
I am not sure exactly what species of ants these are but they are black and I doubt that they measure 1/32nd of an inch in length. They are the smallest ants I have ever seen – but their size in no way diminishes their enthusiasm and vigor.
As I sat on my chair drinking my morning coffee, I saw one of the ants come out of the colony and take a “peek” at the Milk Bone morsel. She returned to the colony. Within a minute, several other ants came out and took a look at the dogs’ leftover. Or at least, I thought they were just inspecting it. In fact, each one was taking a teeny bite out of the Milk Bone and taking it back to the colony. More and more of the ants came up to this little morsel and within an hour it had disappeared completely. Hundreds of teensy little ants made this possible – all working in co-operation and with a common goal in mind.
And here we are in America with the President arguing with Congress and both sides of the aisle arguing with each other. We had a crisis over raising the National Debt Limit and now the “Super Committee” which was to provide a serious plan for reducing our financial mess is apparently deadlocked and will come up with little if anything. Apparently, our political leaders don’t have even the same amount of common sense and purpose that I found in my backyard ant colony. With direction like that, it’s no wonder that the American ship of state is heading inexorably into a wreck against the rocks of arrogance and self-interest.
Is this the kind of America you want for yourself , your children or grandchildren? I certainly hope not – and I believe most of you would agree. There are only three people who can change the way things are going. Those people are you, me and us.
They say that people get “exactly what they deserve in their elected officials.” Well, if we continue with our apathetic “status quo” way of viewing things, we will continue to get what we have always gotten – and I guess we will deserve it.
Or we can make an effort to find people to serve us in Congress and the White House who truly have the country’s interests at heart.
The choice is up to us.