The ants that taught me in an instant

They crawled from under my reading table, each holding a little crumb of bread. Their movement was noiseless and almost had a rhythm to it. While I observed their tiny bodies moving bread crumbs as big as each ant, I wondered where they got the bread crumbs from. My children had cleared the dining area after eating and there was nothing on the table or on the floor. Or so I thought. My children had dealt with the matter the way they were taught to do after each meal but the ants on the other hand, had dealt with the matter of where to look in search of their food, the way they were ‘taught!’

I continued to ponder on the matter as they kept at their task, finding a way around whatever obstacle they encountered. They went around the obstacle, climbed it, went through it if they saw an opening there, or did whatever else they could do. They were not going to stop for anything. I was tempted to squash them with my shoes to see what will become of all ‘that sense of relentlessness’ they were trying to ‘show off’ about but two things held me back. First was the thought that crushing them so easily because of my obvious advantage over them, would not give me any kind of lasting pleasure.

The second thing that held me back was the realization that the ants had their teacher that must have taught them where to look for their food, and how to get their food to their storage, regardless of the barricades in their path. Who taught the ants so? Might he have some teaching lessons for us teachers who teach our children how to clean up and put things in their rightful places after eating? Doesn’t the fact of the existence of these two realities make the point that we ought to come down from our high horses sometimes, and consider deeply how the lessons from that other teacher might enrich our own general experience of life? Because of the inescapable fact that much as we try, with all our knowledge, sophistication and advancement, other stakeholders in our environment, continue to show proof that they possess legitimate permits to live and thrive, as the rest of us.

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