The Ant

I did something I normally don’t do. I watched ants as they worked, this morning on my kitchen top! My interest in these creatures came from a recent sermon on the ‘ant’ which got me thinking.

Thousands of years ago, King Solomon, one of the wisest men to have lived, wrote: “Go to the ant, consider its ways and be wise”, so I decided I would try and consider the ways of an ant…

  • Ants are social insects; they are unable to live on their own and need to live in an organized community or colony and work together.
  • They have specific jobs and carry them out without having to be held accountable.
  • Ants are highly organized, very neat and tidy.
  • Ants are very hard working and have foresight.
  • If a worker ant has found a good source for food, it leaves a trail of scent so that the other ants in the colony can find the food.
  • Worker ants are given the responsibility of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it into the rubbish dump.
  • Ants have the largest and most organized brain among all insects; each ant brain has 250,000 brain cells. A human brain has 10,000 million so a colony of 40,000 ants has collectively the same size brain as a human.
  • An ant’s brain may have the same processing power as a Macintosh II computer.

Ants to me have always been a bother, something we need to avoid and stay as far away from as possible. Persistent and almost having the ability to regenerate, they appear from nowhere and can ruin the best of food and storage. These tiny creatures have the ability to send us humans into panic mode just by appearing in large numbers! We learn quite quickly and sometimes painfully that we need to squash the ants before they destroy our food, wood, clothes or sting us.

Till this morning I never really looked at them as a source of learning or even associated the word ‘wise’ with them but as I watched, fascinated, a peculiar pattern emerged. I noticed something I had never seen before. The ants were on a mission. This was evident to even a “foolish” bystander! There was a line of ants going in one direction and another returning. The ones marching onward were following a very orderly line except for stopping at every returning ant to be communicated something!

As I continued to watch I was astounded at the order being followed without an obvious or evident leader! What were they communicating so diligently? Was it the fact that they had found food and were encouraging the others to keep at it? Were they warning them of enemies? Was it a greeting? Whatever it was, the message of focus, diligence, unity, and of community suddenly dawned on me. Here was a picture of community, not each for themselves but working together for each other.

Google tells me that ants are social insects made to live in communities; my genes tell me that we are no different! If these pint size creatures can maintain order, be united and communicate the way they do with an almost single-mindedness of purpose, what are we doing? We live today with an unspoken rule of each for themselves! A fight for survival, where the winner takes all while the loser has a fall, a ‘me and my household’ mentality. Where has our sense of community vanished? What will it take for me to be like the ant?

Watching the ants made me think about my own “community”, mostly my family, friends, work colleagues and perhaps my neighbours. Would I be willing to share my source of sustenance freely so all of us would have enough, and not just me? Would I be ready to communicate the treasure I have found so that my community may benefits? Do I store up during good times, not just for myself, but for all around me, so that I demonstrate foresight?

The things that we consider the least and most insignificant are sometimes our greatest motivators. To me, this morning has been about the “ant”. And in learning from the ant, I discovered that our inspirations in life don’t always come “king size”. My community sadly is such a tiny one, limited to me and my own, and even though we are social creatures, we have and continue to effectively destroy our communities in the need to self preserve!

The wisdom I gained is to learn from the ant, not only about its ways but also about its work and most importantly about its maker. God has remarkably included a similar makeup in that that we are both social creatures who were created to be in communities!

Anita Kanaiya

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One Response to The Ant

  1. Shantanu Dutta says:

    I am always at what some people can glean from Google – ” even the sociology of ants !” Probably ants are conditioned to be interdependent ; but we humans are taught or socialized that self sufficiency and independence are the highest attainments. A person dependent on others is usually considered a parasite, a burden or a failure. Hence our innate resistance to communities….

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