Friday, June 10, 2005

A Parable

There once was a Man who lived on top of an ant hill. Big, red, fierce, biting Ants inhabited that anthill. The anthill sat on top of a valuable treasure. Only someone who could control the Ants could reach the treasure. And the Man had learned to live in peace with the Ants.

It came to pass that the Man began to act strangely. He began to scream at his neighbors, and became violent. He laid his hands on his neighbors’ possessions and tried to take them away. He started to boast about how well he controlled his Ants, and how he was the only one who could make use of the treasure they guarded. His neighbors, stunned and disturbed by his behavior, banded together and decided that the reason the Man was acting so strangely was because his heart had become bad. It had to be cut out and replaced with a new one, and the man would go back to being a good neighbor. They went to the man and told him what they thought should be done. They told him that he was sick…surely he wanted to be healed?

Though his heart was paining him, and he had begun to feel ill and light-headed, the Man didn’t believe his heart was bad, and he wanted nothing to do with his neighbors’ plans. He just got angrier, yelled louder, and tried harder to take things away from them. The Ants, meanwhile, sensed there was something wrong, and began to swarm, and occasionally to raise their pincers and bite. The Man, now crazy with pain and drunk with power, forgot how he had once made peace with the Ants. He stamped on them, poisoned them, and burned them to keep them under control. The Ants subsided, but they were not happy…

The Man’s behavior became so alarming that it was storied far and wide. His neighbors met again, this time enlisting the help of People From Faraway Lands who had never known the Man, but had heard stories of how evil he had become…along with tales of the treasure he sat upon. They all agreed that a man who had been turned bad by a bad heart should not be in control of a treasure. The Man must be cured, whether he wanted to be or not. The Man’s neighbors hinted to the People From Faraway Lands that perhaps after the Man received his new heart, he would be so grateful that he would share his treasure with them. At that, one big, strong, warrior from among the People From Faraway Lands declared that he was the only one in the world who could disable the Man, cut out the bad heart, and replace it with a good one. Some tried to warn the Warrior about the Ants. The Warrior scoffed, and said he had heard stories of Ants, but he didn’t believe they really existed. Besides…what harm could they do? They were only ants, and he was a huge, strong, brave warrior. The Ants would be no problem for him!

By and by, the time came for the Warrior to carry out his plan. He stormed across the Big Pond, knocked the Man senseless, and laid him out flat on the ground. With the skill of a fine surgeon, he cut the Man open from throat to belly, incised out the bad heart, and flung it aside. Then, from out of his pocket, he drew the new, good heart, and dropped it into the Man’s chest. But something was wrong! The new heart looked small and weak inside the great barrel chest of the Man. The Warrior struggled to stretch it and sew it into the cavernous void left by the Man’s old heart. Sweat trickled from the Warrior’s brow, and his head ached with strain as he tried one thing after another to get the new heart to fit. And as he sweated and struggled and fitted, the Ants awoke. Sensing that the one who had kept them down had been disabled, they came…first one, then two, then a trickle, then a horde. They bit and stung and pinched…punishing the senseless Man lying splayed out and split like a watermelon on the ground; though barely alive, the Man flinched and moaned and cried out in pain.

The ants boiled into the Man’s gaping wound, and over the hands of the Warrior, stinging and biting. He brushed them away, and kept working, furiously trying anything, now, to simply save the Man’s life. But the Ants came and came and came by the thousands. The Warrior could hardly see what he was doing anymore; Ants filled the wound, covered the Warrior’s arms and hands, streamed up his neck toward his eyes. Jackals and vultures and rats, smelling the fresh blood, edged closer and closer to the two human figures swarming with ants.  Emboldened carrion eaters dodged in, ripped away mouthfuls of the Man or snapped at the Warrior, and scuttled back into the darkness.

Finally, the Warrior sprung up from the ground and feverishly scraped the enraged ants off of his hands and arms. He looked down, appalled, at the Man lying on the ground, still split open from throat to belly, with the small, weak heart half attached and leaking the Man’s life blood into a widening, sticky dark pool on the ground. The Warrior didn’t know what to do next. Should he call for help, and risk appearing weak and foolish before all those to whom he had boasted that he was the only man for this job?

Should he return to his knees in the dust beside the man, open to the attacks of the ants and the jackals, holding the small, weak heart in place with his bare hands until it became strong enough for him to close the wound and leave the Man to heal?

Should he turn on his heel, brush off the rest of the ants, and walk away, because, after all, it is not HIS anthill, and the Man was not HIS neighbor, and he really didn’t want a share of the treasure anyway…

What should the Warrior do?


  1. oh,no!
    i don't know & I am so caught up in this I have to find out!

  2. Whoa..........Wow!  Awesome!  You know that I am not very politically astute, but I think I know where you are going with this.....and it's so fitting!  Lisa, if this is your original work, you must get this published, even if it's a letter to the Editor of a major newspaper in your area!  This is soooo very good!  Hugs, Lisa

  3. Whoa. strong stuff, girl. There was a shop in Oakridge that had this little ditty on the shelves. "Lovely to look at, precious to hold, but if you break it consider it sold." Unfortunately the Warrior falls under the "you broke it" category. Too, bad he can't fix it until he convinces the ants to carry to injured man to safety.


  4. Ok, is the Man Iraq (and the Man's "heart" was Saddam Hussein), and the Warrior the United States?  Is that it? Do I get an A?  I think the Warrior needs to admit that he had no business trying to fix the Man, that he should have tried talking to him about how he was treating his Ants. Now that he's in this fix, he has no choice but to stay, try to keep the Man alive, and continue to get stung by the Ants for several years.  Sad.

  5. the problem with this parable is that the warrior actually DID want a share of the treasure.  in fact, he wanted the whole freakin treasure for himself and his godly nation, because they were quickly running out of treasure and places to dig for treasure and this anthill, and others like it in the same mythical location, were where the big time reserves of treasure were still left.  futhermore, the people from the faraway land actually were extremely well aquainted with the man on top of the ant hill.  they had, in fact, put him there in the first place.  there's even picturts of the secretary of defense of the faraway land shaking hands with the evil bad man, with big happy smiles on both faces.
    the parable also seems to have a tiny big of confusion about who exactly is the man.  is he a symbol of a country?  or a symbol of the country's leader?  because the warrior sure as heck is not interested in putting any heart at all back in the anthill's former leader.
    i urge you to read bruce miller's post today:
    it's talking about this very parable.
    i love you, dearheart, i feel your pain.

  6. Lisa, i hope you won't mind, but i linked to this entry in my journal.  to you and to bruce.

  7. I didn't figure it out until I read Hope5555's I understand, I can be a little ditzy at times, but powerful parable now that I understand it's context.  


  8. The Warrior should go home! Great story, Lisa!


  9. yes, Lisa - I had meditated more on the story, after reading it a couple of times, and did realize that The Man was the country of Iraq - you may agree, or not, that there is some confusion in the second paragraph.  it was not the country of Iraq that began to act strangely and aggressively, it was The Leader, that is to say - in your version, the heart of The Man.

    Well, i wrote and wrote and wrote here, and lo and behold i exceeded my limit on number of characters for a comment.  haven't done that before.  so, i'm putting my comment into my windmills journal.  come read it there.

  10. I think the warrior should shut up and sit his ass down like the Lame Duck he is so he will no longer screw up anything else.  And never again desecrate the name Warrior by calling himself one.

  11. Wow! That was trippy to read so early in the morning. I'm going to go with my first instinct and that is that he should finish what he started. :-) ---Robbie

  12. It didn't take me long to realise that this is a parable on the invasion and management of Iraq, Lisa.  And I was filled with sadness.  

  13. The Warrior will wait, grow tired, find an excuse and return home.       A new man calling himself the Messiah will convince the ants to turn over the treasure for a wonderful cause....a trip to Heaven. This "Messiah" will explain that world is poisoned with the desire for material possesions, and with such aimless and selfish desires, this world has no reason to exist. The ants release the treasure to this "Messiah" who trades it for tools to cure the "infidels"........
     Some see death and fear its offering......some see death as a reward..a justification.    We will never see the same thing the same way.....Just ask an ant how it  felt about 9/11.

          I pray for the ants to gain knowledge...... but with the venom in their blood....can they learn beyond their visions?

    Praying for Peace.....Marc