Graeme −> Language −> Rants −> Ant and Grasshopper, an updated fable −> page 3

As you probably know, the classical version of the Ant and the Grasshopper story goes like this:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so dies in the cold.

I offered an updated Ant-and-Grasshopper tale, which takes pot shots at the liberal policies of a Democratic president, to which one of my fans, S. Alexander, took exception

Then another of my many readers, Jim Keller, found this rebuttal hard to take, not so much because of its political views as its stretching of poetic license beyond the breaking point.  So he stepped above the "Liberal vs. Conservative" fray to question the aptness of the insect analogy.  Here's Jim Keller's take on the old fable, which is copywrite by Jim Keller and used here with permission:

Ants and Grasshoppers

There are two main takes
on the ant and grasshopper fable.

The Republican or capitalist view
(and basically Aesop’s view) is...
that the hard-working, foresightful
well-organized, commodity-investing ant
knows what needs to be done
to successfully weather the winter
and provide for his family – 
while the lazy, leaf munching, hippie hopper,
probably from an illegal alien family
whiles, hops and screws the summer away
leaving eggs hither and yon – 
and then has the nerve, the gall
to ask the thrifty, virtuous, abstemious ant
to support him when the cold winds blow,
the corn is gone from the fields
and the blush is off the rose.

The Democrat or socialist view,
au contraire, mon frère is....
that the stingy, grubbing
anal retentive, resource-hogging ant
grabs everything in the field for himself
and his boring, tight-assed little pissant family
even as he’s free to enjoy 
the grasshopper’s mating songs
and high-tensile acrobatics
without a ticket or even a fare-thee-well – 
and THEN when his neighbor,
who’s honorably practiced his native culture
as hopper traditions demand
is a bit down on his luck in the gathering cold,
with no foodstuffs left in the field clear cut by the ant,
and asks for a bit of hand and a modicum of fairness,
is coldly rebuffed and left to die
by the callousness of a creature of greed.

But both of these, looked at clearly,
are utter nonsense!

Ants are not patriarchal pillaging capitalists –
they’re not even "he’s" at all – 
rather an ant hill’s
an ongoing Amazon Warrior Queendom
with a single egg-laying monarch
whose males are bred as stud slaves
and once turned out to fertilize new queens
are antsana non gratia and left to die – 
and whose female worker/warrior/nurses
have no sexual lives at all
and work so hard they wear out in weeks
only to be replaced 
by the next and next and next generations.

Fierce, aggressive, organized and pitiless
they gather food because they must
and resist all incursions from without
with deadly, swarming, poisonous force – 
and will kill and eat a dying grasshopper
in their collective grasp as avidly as a piece of grain – 
Because they’re ANTS, dammit!!

Grasshoppers, on the other hand,
are perennials, each on their own,
and must eat fast, grow fast, jump fast,
make mating calls and couple fast
before the days grow short – 
and even if the ants were of a mind
to build old grasshopper homes
or fund grasshopper security programs
or re-educate grasshoppers on proper larval care,
t’would all be for naught –
for all the grasshoppers
would still die in the fall,
even in the middle of an endless supply 
of the tasty leaves they munch 
(which ants neither gather nor eat at all)
and would never raise their children –
Because they’re GRASSHOPPERS, dammit!!

So what’s the REAL moral?? 
Well..... ....several.

If you’re a grasshopper
stay away from ants, spiders, birds, toads and such,
and eat drink and make whoopee
like there’s no tomorrow –
because for you, in the fall, there isn’t.

If you’re a male ant, tough.
Enjoy being fed and kept idle as a kid
and when shoved out of the nest,
best you at least make love once,
but love made or no,
you’re a dead drone.

If you’re a female worker/warrior ant
bust your butt and stay vigilant every damn day.
Dig, gather, tend, attack, defend. Period.
It’s a hard life, but at least it’s short.

If you’re a queen ant,
lay, lady, lay.

If you’re a writer of fables,
stick with mammals already.
The analogies are closer.

And if you’re a reader or viewer
of any story, book, movie, show or newscast,
do be careful of how many of your own
internalized, anthropomorphized beliefs
you project on others.

–Jim Keller

© 2004 all rights reserved, world rights reserved