Who needs an Ant when an Ant can be Broken?
Remind you of an old favorite? Fret not, a YouTube clip is at the end. But this post is about how amazing and complex ants are, and how their intelligence has remained unrecognized for long. And what they can and do teach us intelligent, sentient humans.
In HnH, I wrote about two essential qualities, that complement and enhance our intelligence, restraint and social consciousness. Contrasting these aspects with freedom and individual pursuits of happiness, I’ve tried to convey my own humble learning from life…and even brought in ubiquitous ants into discussions described in the book. The subject came up as we discussed social organizations and how order and peace may be maintained within; the discussion group addressed violence in the domestic and social context. Little did I know, then, that ants had perfected their learning of beneficial social and cultural aspects, that I too am beginning to appreciate more, in their evolution over hundreds of millions of years.
Deborah Gordon, a biologist at Stanford University, calls it “the rewards of restraint.” She explains, from her many decades of research on ants, how decisions made by individual ants alter the behavior of the colony as a whole, how they communicate with each other to give rise to a social consciousness that makes their communities highly resilient. Individuals, on their own, may not be very efficient, but as a team, a colony, ants are formidable, and have survived far longer than humans are known to have existed. Antoine Wysatch of the University of Sussex says we’ve been looking at ant intelligence the wrong way. I so wish I could go back to my classes and discuss this with Sid the counselor (who called Ants ‘rigid’ and ‘programmed’) once again! We have, indeed, been studying life anthorpomorphically, as we humans like to view it, not as it truly is. Takes humility to restrain our tendencies, yes?
So just what do ants have to do with it? Everything…they are hunters, farmers, soldiers, workers, builders, worshippers, and loving nurturers and parents. They are individuals, and yet so much stronger in their communities.
There is a sneaky message in this post…the passionate artist elaborates, in her own inimitable way, on it below! If you do guess this message – that is slowly percolating into human social consciousness through the work of some amazing individuals and organizations – do let me know.
And now, as promised –
Tina Turner: What’s Love Got To Do With It