“Why Doesn’t Anybody Listen?”
At first I considered titling this piece “Why Doesn’t Anybody Listen Anymore,” but it caused me to wonder if anyone ever truly did. Now we can crisscross through our technological disorder and invent syndromes to sell new medications, but the only purpose of such explanations is an attempt to either cure or justify the constant distractions of children. And while each of these buzzing gnats of the larger world certainly do play a part in the breakdown of society, the problem is much deeper than this.
Take a look at an ant colony. Ants are the most brilliant of insects, hard-working and creative and only interested in the survival of their civilization. There are about ten quadrillion ants in this world and they will no doubt find a way to survive long after all of us are gone. In fact, they are likely to be the leaders of our planet’s next eon as evolution makes it’s change and creates a supersmart superspecies that knows how to get things done. This is not a science-fiction horror story, but a postulation on the future. It is in dark contrast to the breakdown of civilization we are all experiencing today.
Ants may fight and I am sure that they argue, but these disputes are more about where to pave a new path for the future and how best to preserve a food source for the coming generations. Humans, in contrast, seem to think only of the present, hope for the future a thing of the past. People want things now and have grown-up tantrums and screaming fits if they do not get their way. People steal and cheat and lie and I guess they always have. Ants have no need for deception because they think as a colony, something like a group mind with the sole purpose being continued existence. Isn’t it a tragedy that ants think about the days to come like we used to do?
But we have become masters at tearing things down and ripping everything apart. This is not simply a comment referring to holes in the ground and melting glaciers; this is only partially about the rise and fall of taller and taller buildings and statues and monuments celebrating ourselves like gigantic career achievement awards bestowed upon humanity by the great beyond. We also destroy ideas, rupture belief systems, instill confusion and anger on an aimless, directionless walk to the future that grows more and more dependent on ‘artificial intellegence’ to pull us through.
In children today there is very little interest in learning, little imagination. They seem stalled by the ease in which they can discover something–Wikipedia, on-line sources, misspelled applications to grand ideas that summarize a concept in a handful of words. Here, look:
Humanity :the human race; human beings collectively.
“appalling crimes against humanity”
Superficially this is of course correct: ‘the human race; human beings collectively.’ This is the definition of us. The only example this short-answer gives us is ‘appalling crimes against humanity.’ And all of this means nothing. There is no deeper insight into what, exactly, the social nature of people is and how civilization has been formed and expanded through many thousands of years work. All we get is ‘people’ and there are crimes against them. And that is all. Now step back for a moment and consider, in this cynical, angry age, just how close to many people’s perception of our world such nothingness applies to.
We live in a time where we refuse to listen and believe that for some reason we know everything. We don’t even need to learn, we think. Everything is spread out there for you, even the lies that pass for truth, within increasingly small niches. We can choose to believe in anything, or become so blind we will do exactly as we are told without bothering to ask why. We do not listen. We react. We shout down anything that does not immediately gel with our individual ideas of right and wrong, of truth and fiction, of a lie and the gospel we abide throughout the entirety of our lives.
Ants are not so selfish. It is a hive mind, or a Communism that seems to actually work. And while each ant must sacrifice their independence in the name of society, wasn’t that once our very definition of a hero? By this perspective every ant in the colony is a hero. And by the same perspective, when reflecting upon modern human life, we are no better than parasites, sucking out the last nutrition from the dried up breast of mother earth. The ants build bridges, lay eggs sometimes in far away places so a whole new colony can form, away from the internal politics of one queen, and into a far more natural progression where the one who gives birth is the mother of all, and everyone else is there to serve the future. And these are ants, those creepy-crawlies that we often crush with our fingers or engineer a holocaust with toxic chemicals that cause nature itself to wither, turn brown and die. And we feel satisfied after doing this, after a genocidal hour spraying shit all over the outside of our homes and in the corners of every room inside. “That’ll get those fucking ants,” we tell ourselves in cruel mirth. Every times will kill an insect we want to feel that we are exerting our dominance over a world filled with irritations. But it is only a blind murder, of no consequence, not even to the hive. There is always more work to be done and many new generations to replace him.
I had wanted to compose a nice piece here of admiration for ants, a creature I frankly have had terrible experiences with throughout my life. I have had my feet chewed up by large, bulbous red ants when I was six years old. I have awakened to a terrible itching when I was in college and when I got up from my bed there were hundreds of tiny black ants clustered together where my back had been, annoyed that I had removed the safety of my warmth. There are ants crawling around in the corners of the room I am presently in, and my cat is hunting. He will no doubt eat quite a few before he loses interest. And so that is another thing to consider. Through all of their hard work, they have to deal with giants and monsters and many things that want to eat them. I remember being young and one of my mother’s awful friends having just come back from someplace southern and treating my brother and I to chocolate covered ants. I found this appalling even back then. I mean, I’m an animal lover, but am not particularly a fan of insects. Yet I appreciate all they do for the planet, the ways that worms purify soil and this thing eats that thing in order to keep the great wheel of nature energized and mostly consistent. It is miraculous how all of this natural order together works.
But with people . . . people. The only monsters that we fear are ourselves.