The ant and the goose

Are you an ant or a goose? Someone drew two large arrows on a board recently both going from left to right.

Within each of them were countless other small arrows. In the first large arrow all the small ones were going up and down and some backwards and some forwards. Within the second all the little arrows were going left to right in neat lines, one following the other. We were asked to choose which we preferred? Both arrows were going in the way we all wanted to go, but in the first there was no order while in the second all was regimented.

The migration of birds is a wonderful thing. In North America the Snow Geese leave their feeding grounds in Mexico in April and fly north to the Arctic lands to breed. Then in September as the long northern snows approach they take wing again, once their young are strong enough, for Mexico. And so it has been for thousands of years. If you are fortunate enough to live on their route and you look up into the sky you will see thousands of birds flying in perfect order in one direction. It is an astonishing sight.

And then there are the ants who invade our living spaces at this time of the year. If you watch them they too are going in one direction but in a seemingly confused way. Some go left others right. Some go back, bump into another going forward and change course. It looks total confusion. And yet somehow they all reach where they want to go.

So which scene do we prefer? Nature provides us with so many images. We only know which is better or at least better for us, here and now by the results. One scenario may be better in war or in crisis, another in peace. We are trying to write a constitution. Everyone agrees we need one so we agree on the general direction. But is it best to be herded into lines and told what to think and say? Certainly we will emerge with something at the end because the whole process has been organised as for an army in battle. The leading goose knows exactly where he is going.

Or is it better to allow a process where people sniff out the way, sometimes retreating, sometimes advancing? It would mean opening the debate wide, allowing discussion and debate, stops and starts, frustrations and fruition. All the indications are that we are being treated as geese rather than ants. Ants, seemingly, are too threatening.

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *