Civil Discourse Now

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"The Grasshopper and the Ants" or a hedonist's justification to fiddle away in these "end times."

   Spring was fresh and everything was alive.

   The ants had wakened from their months of slumber. Immediately they began to work. They scurried about. They grabbed pieces of food. Some pieces they ate. The rest were carried down the hole at the top of their hill, to the chambers beneath the ground.

   A few yards away, a grasshopper flitted about. He made merry with a fiddle. He entertained his friends. He and his companions seemed amused by the labors of the ants.

   "Why work so hard, my friends?" he one day asked. "Live for today! Enjoy life while you can!"

   A worker ant yelled back, "We work to survive the winter sure to come! We will be warm below. We will not starve!"

   The grasshopper laughed, played a tune on his fiddle, and said, "What a drab existence! Look at the day! It is beautiful! Come over here and enjoy it with us!"

   The ants went on about their business. They carried pieces of food, many times the weight of each worker ant that labored.

   Spring became summer. An occasional rainfall interrupted the ants, who would scurry to their underground kingdom, from which they could hear the noises of the grasshopper’s parties. None of the ants spoke what each believed: the grasshopper would "get his" when the first frosts hit, food was scarce, and the grasshopper froze and starved. None of the ants expressed how satisfied each would be once they had opportunity to lord over their neighbor. More than a few ants 

harbored dreams of a grasshopper, as he lay dying on the anthill above, who would bed for some help from the ants, only too happy to cut apart the corpse of the grasshopper and transport the body parts of this specimen of Melanoplus femur-rubrum.

   The summer had reached its zenith. Days were hot. Human farmers cultivated the fields next to the edge of the woods in which the ants had built their kingdom and the ant fiddled away.

   One day, the grasshopper stopped wit the play of his fiddle and, again, invited the ants to come to his place and make merry.

   One ant began to lecture. "Life is not only for the present. We must labor for the future..."

   The rest of the ant’s words were overcome by the road of a giant machine of the humans. The yellow thing flew by overhead. From its wings jets of a liquid were expelled. As the liquid made contact with the ant and the grasshopper, each creature so touched writhed in agony. The liquid flowed down into the chambers below the ant hill. Those ants not killed outside now met the same gruesome death as their fellows. Within minutes, all the creatures were dead. The little corpses would decay. The foods laid away by the labors of the ants would rot.

   The only sounds were the roar, in the distance, of the human machine as it made more passes over the area, and of the wind that blew a soft melody, different from that played by the grasshopper.



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Comment by Kurt Lorey on April 16, 2013 at 6:13am

You sure tricked me. I thought that this story might have a different "lesson". Perhaps that the grasshopper had found a way to tax the poor ants' stores and lived high on the hog all winter on the fruits of his ill-gotten gains. Or maybe that the grasshopper had relatives who had successfully lobbied some of the ruling ants that it would be an excellent idea to provide "bread and circuses" to the worker ants all winter using the fine talents of the fiddling grasshopper. I never expected such a catastrophic conclusion from you. roflmao


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