Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Elephant and the Ant, a Terrible Parable

The saying goes, “An elephant never forgets”, a saying on the same order as, “Bumble bees can’t fly, but since the bumble bee can’t read it goes ahead and flies anyway*”.

It’s true enough that elephants never forget -- but they often have a hard time remembering, which can almost amount to the same thing...

An elephant is standing quite still on a forest path, trying to recall what it was it was about to do. Elephants know that standing still is one of the first steps towards remembrance.

It’s a busy daytime jungle and many things are happening. One of the things happening is an ant on its way to some Very Important Ant-Business. As it happens, the path along which this ant is walking runs right into the elephant’s foot.


If the ant had been a human, it would have fallen on its butt! However, as an ant has six legs it is only slightly puzzled.

Many creatures, even a few humans, would just say, “O, something in the way, better walk around it!” This particular ant, being almost human in its self-importance, took the obstacle quite personally. It saw it as both an affront and an insult to the Dignity and Honor of itself in particular and ants in general.

“Sir, why do you stand in my path? I demand that you remove yourself at once! I am an Ant-on-Very-Important-Business! I fear to think of the consequence should I fail to meet my appointed round and you are found to be the proximate cause!” The foot, of course, said nothing in reply...

“Sir, silence is also a form of response, signifying, in most cases, disregard, negativity and contempt! If I do not hear a response from you, I can only conclude that you are not only discourteous and unmannered but uncouth and disrespectful as well! Know you not that I am on the business of the Queen Herself!”

The foot, of course, as well as the elephant, heard nothing of this one-sided dialogue. But, the elephant did come to think that perhaps it might as well continue its walk down the forest path, as it simply could not remember what it was that it had intended to do. So, the elephant took a step forward.

The ant, received this event with great exuberance and joy.

“Ah,” it said, “I see you have come to your senses!” The ant then began its first steps to complete its Business for the Queen Herself.

It was at that precise moment the elephant remembered that it wanted to evacuate its bowels. In short order, approximately fifty pounds of elephant poop dropped, “pla-dask!” on the ant!

For many creatures in the forest, this may have been a boon and even for ants in general.

But, it was not a good thing for this Very-Important-Ant as it was squashed and expired at once under the load of elephantine excremental exuberance.

The moral of this story is: “Don’t make threats to things bigger than you and if you do, don’t hang around when the shit comes down!”

*Although a good story, it's not true that bumble bees should not be able to fly. The aeronautical engineer who came to that conclusion failed take into account that bumblebee wings cannot be compared to airplane wings. Bumblebee wings are neither smooth nor rigid -- these and other facts give the creature much more lift than comparable airplane wings.


Lurch said...

One is also reminded of the example of the dung beetle, who is masochistically most content at what appears to be the most unpleasant point in life.

Chuck Cliff said...

Shhh, Lurch, not so loud! Somebody's needs to do job and it does it free!

Or, maybe the beetle retorts, "Look how those people are rolling their world into a ball of shit and they call me the masochist!

Lurch said...

Myself, I'd rather be a nmushroom than a dung beetle, because then it would be dark and I couldn't see what I was nestling in.

Chuck Cliff said...

LOL, but you know of course that 'shrooms don't actually grow in manure,they have little filiments running through the dirt to suck nourishment from decayed places.

It's kind of like with politicians, they don't get the little brown envelope in their office -- it's handed to a flunky somewhere...

Duke Cunningham was an exception ofcourse