By Celia Coates
This has been an up then down week in America filled first with highs – love, honor, and gratitude in the farewells to Aretha Franklin and John McCain – followed by a return to the on-going lows of chaos and selfishness. I had to step aside from the dark torrent of breaking news and, instead, think about two stories about ants that were a good distraction.
Here’s one of them, an old fable from Aesop that is about an ant and a dove,
An ant went down to the edge of a river for a sip of water, lost its footing, and fell in. A dove was sitting on a branch that hung out over the water and, seeing the ant in distress, pulled a leaf off the tree and dropped it into the water so the current could carry it to the ant. The ant climbed up onto the leaf and floated safely back to the riverbank.
The next day the dove was again sitting on the branch when a hunter came by and spotted the bird. The ant saw the hunter begin to reach for his gun and quickly ran up and stung him on the leg. The hunter jumped at the pain, dropped his gun with a clatter, and the dove flew away.
The moral of this fable is: “One good turn deserves another.”
It must have been a fire ant – their bites really hurt.
The second story is about fire ants. After reading the fable, I remembered a small article about fire ants surviving a flood by forming a raft of their own bodies and floating to safety as a group. Their good turns are done for each other – and even more for their larvae which they work hard to carry along so they can ensure the survival of their colony.
I wanted to find this story so I went online. There are several videos of fire ants creating rafts – especially ones filmed last year after Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The ants connect their legs in ways that make it almost impossible for them to be dislodged from the collective raft, although some fish were able to nibble away at them from under the water.
I guess the moral here is: “All for one, and one for all.”
I was entertained for a while by the two ant stories and then, having a very serious turn of mind, I began thinking about how these stories are lessons for our times. It would be wonderful if more of us could notice when others are in trouble and drop them “a leaf” so that they can get back on their feet. It would be even better if some “hunters” could have their guns removed before they shoot unarmed prey. Then, what if we could learn to join together and float our whole country out of danger? I’m really dreaming now – what if we could consider all humans as part of our colony and work together for the good of the whole planet? Unfortunately we already demonstrate one of the strongest traits of fire ants: they, and we, seem to need to devour everything in our paths.
More than once I’ve been asked what posts like this have to do with WINN. It’s because stories teach. I often write about compassion, generosity, and the belief that we are all one (the lessons in these two stories) partly because that’s the wisdom, the perennial wisdom, created through thousands of years of human experience. It is wisdom that can also be found today in near death experiences (NDEs). NDEs are a profound kind of “other world” phenomena that can teach us a great deal about who we are and how to live our lives. It’s wisdom that is really What Is Needed Now.
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You can see the video of the ant rafts at: https://www.inthesetimes.com/ruralamerica/entry20475/fireants/biologo/
The Image that heads this post is of a book of Aesop’s Fables, from Wikipedia.