About Ants And Grasshoppers

By Norman E. Kjono, April 27, 2007

 

 

Like urban legends, stories circulated through Internet E-Mail tress tend to expand as the original pithy, to-the-point stories inspire readers with new ideas. As is apparent below, that has occurred with the story, "The Ant and the Grasshopper."

Such stories often present morals or philosophical views. On occasion, the learning point and text of the original story are expanded to incorporate a particular issue. The first two versions of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" below illustrate that phenomenon. The original simple five-line story about personal responsibility was expanded into several paragraphs, to include commentary about mainstream media and politicians.

 

Regrettably, both of those versions came to me without attribution. I am therefore unable to provide credit for the below "Old Version" and "Modern Version" that is richly due. An original version of the story does appear, however, in Aesop's Fables as published in The Harvard Classics 1909 -  1914.

 

I thought it would be fun to expand the old and modern versions of the fable to examine human behavior in our now very politically correct world. The epilogue, which I authored, develops the modern version to tell the story of what the Ant did after it disappeared in the snow, as that version's author describes. Given the prevalence of single-issue coalitions in today's political events and regulatory measures I added the Grasshopper Support Coalition and described its activities in the section captioned "A Predictable Cycle."

 

I trust that the expanded work adds the dimension of needless complexity with which politically Social Marketing encumbers simple truths and age-old morals that Aesop so eloquently stated more than 2,500 years ago.

 

The Ant and the Grasshopper


OLD VERSION

 

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

 

The grasshopper thinks the ant is 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 he dies out in the cold.

 

Moral of the Story: Be responsible for yourself!

 

The Ant and the Grasshopper


MODERN  VERSION

 

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

 

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.  America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

 

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, "It's Not Easy Being Green."

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake. Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

 

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

 

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients. The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

 

Moral of the Story: Be careful how you vote!

 

The Ant and the Grasshopper


EPILOGUE FOR THE FUTURE

 

Having been penalized for fiscally responsible behavior, watched his carefully laid away supplies being engorged on by Grasshoppers that do not have a clue about sowing and reaping, taxed into losing his home, and thrown out in the cold by 'ner do wells, the Ant shrugged and walked away through the snow drifts.

 

The Ant understood something that ne'er do wells never even think about, let alone grasp: those who loot also hoard by instinct. By hoarding they eliminate investment in meeting their future needs. The Ant understood that so long as Grasshoppers rule they will breed at a prodigious rate exponentially greater than flies. Believing in an infinite supply of food so long as others are required to produce value for them their population expands, producing endless varieties of their species. Lacking a meaningful sense of self-worth, they substitute unbridled consumption for disciplined production. Consequently, in the short term they create vast piles of unearned wealth by consuming what others create. Absent faith in their own ability to engage in creative endeavor they create monopolies that separate others from the fruits of their honest labor. Such Ponzi scheme hoarding monopolies inevitably collapse because the number of Grasshoppers who engage in unbridled consumption ultimately exceeds the available supply of food.

 

The Ant saw a cosmic opportunity in this perverse, unnatural Grasshopper behavior. He moved to the desert.

 

Where he found erosion pools in a gully he built cisterns.


When he could not find sufficient food he bought seeds.


While the hot sun beat down on him he worked to dig a small garden.


As Grasshoppers played with his former wealth he learned to make do with simple basics.

 

The first year he went without, to spend his money on supplies for the cistern.


The second year he learned how to accomplish much with very little, to finance buying seeds.


The third year his garden provided nearly enough food to meet his needs.


He learned to cope with circumstances beyond his control.

 

The Grasshoppers laughed. "See," they bragged," those who are not progressive like us are losers!"

 

The fourth year he had enough water and seed to expand his garden by fifty percent. He also had enough food to lay a little aside and get through winter, with seed stock safely stored for the next year.


The fifth year he planted his free seed stock from the previous harvest and invested in better tools to till the soil. He expanded his garden land by seventy-five percent. He sold the small surplus of food at a roadside stand.


The sixth year he expanded his garden by one hundred percent. He opened another roadside stand further down the road, hiring a bee to run it for him.


As he worked, the Ant maintained a modest home, just large enough to shelter him. Rather than expanding his home, he bought more garden land and built a barn to store his farming tools, preserve surplus food, and store greater amounts of seed.

Grasshoppers that happened by chortled. "Who," they preened, "would want to live in a dump like that?"

The seventh year the Ant doubled his garden again, selling food at three roadside stands. A bird managed his stand in the next county. He invested the profits in expanding his tracts of garden land. His comfortable, though modest, home remained adequate for his needs.


The eighth year he expanded to operating five roadside stores, building permanent structures that sold a variety of goods. He invested the profits to triple his garden land holdings.


The ninth year his holdings were so large that they influenced the weather. A once-arid, now lush, environment created a climate that provided rain to nourish vast tracts of the desert. Birds and bees thrived in the environment, adding value to the whole through their contributions to the Ant's enterprise. Bird and bee houses began to dot the landscape.

 

The Grasshoppers remarked, "What a nice place to live! We should think about moving here."

 

During summer of he tenth year the Grasshoppers came. They began by consuming every plant in sight for miles around, leaving bare soil.

 

Winter arrived. The Grasshoppers were hungry. They went to the Ant. "You have a successful farm," they said. "Give us food!" they demanded.

 

"I'd be happy to do so," the Ant replied, "but as you can see the fields are now empty, there is no food left on the vine, in the trees or in the ground."

 

"Give us your money," they mandated, "so we can buy food!"

 

"I'd be happy to do so," the Ant replied. "But, as you can see, all the roadside stands are now closed in the after-season. Where will you buy food?"

 

"Feed us now," the Grasshoppers screamed, "or we will consume you."

 

"You're free to eat me, of course," the Ant responded, "but who will plant the food crops next year?"

 

"You're a regressive loser who does not share with others!" the Grasshoppers proclaimed.

 

"Could be," the Ant replied. "But how can one regressive loser be expected to feed millions of Grasshoppers?"

"We demand to be fed now!" the Grasshoppers shouted.

 

"Well, I can't do much to help you today," the Ant replied. "But here's a bushel of seed that can provide food for next year.

"Eeww . . . only seed!" the Grasshoppers exclaimed. "We're not low-life farmers! We won't wait 'til next Harvest!" They quickly consumed the bushel of seed.

 

Next spring the Ant drove his new tractor across many sections of desert land. He knew, as he did when he walked out of the snow drifts now many years ago, that there was a way to expand his holdings across the entire desert.

By simply plowing under the thick carpet of starved and dead Grasshoppers across the barren land a rich compost would assure this year's bumper crop.

 

Moral of the Story: Nature has everything under control; it always has and always will. Species that expand beyond their ability to produce a wholesome food supply for themselves predictably and with certainty become extinct.

 

Future survival is never assured by manipulating the current supply, which adds nothing of value. Survival is always guaranteed by a commitment to disciplined production of future value.

 

A Predictable Cycle

 

And so, many more diligent ants learned from the Ant. They grew and prospered. Their gardens expanded across the nation. Bees prospered and grew in numbers by pollinating ever-expanding gardens. Birds did well by enjoying their natural share of the bounty and spreading seed as they traveled.

The next generation of ants carried on the disciplined commitment of the Ant. Their progeny grew content with what previous generations and leaders had created. Many in the following generations of ants began to ask why they had so much and some Grasshoppers had so little.

 

"We must tax birds and bees to provide more for those poor Grasshoppers!" a young ant proclaimed.

 

"Why not teach the Grasshoppers how to grow their own gardens?" another ant asked.

 

"That's the old ways, stupid!" the young ant replied. "We are more enlightened and progressive than that!"

 

Many young ants agreed. They formed the Grasshopper Support Coalition. The more they took from the birds and bees the more Grasshoppers there were. The more Grasshoppers there were the greater their numbers in the coalition became. The more Grasshoppers talked the more closely their views aligned. The more closely their views aligned the less tolerant they became of opposing views. In short order, the only views permitted were those previously approved by the coalition board.

 

CNN coverage of the coalition quoted its approved talking points verbatim and presented an opportunity for token ants to disprove the talking points in ten second spots allotted for balanced news.

 

Soon, Grasshoppers began to complain there was not enough food for all of them. A Grasshopper was elected Chair of the coalition. His first proposal, to tax ants who had so much while Grasshoppers had so little, passed by a wide margin. His second resolution, declaring ants to be exploiters of Grasshoppers, also passed.

 

 ABC 20/20 produced a special investigative report revealed the true threat to prosperity that ants represented. All ants, ABC reported, could not be immediately reached for comment.

 

Later, a special one-time levy on the value of garden land was passed.

 

The next year the coalition voted to make the levy permanent.

 

During the third year garden seizures to collect on past-due levies was authorized by the coalition. That year the coalition also banned ant ownership of gardens. "After all," the Decider-insect said, "everyone knows that ants are exploiters of Grasshoppers and that they seek to destroy our way of life."

 

FOX News broadcast the Decider-Insect's mantra in a continuous-loop video.

 

The fourth year the number of gardens reduced by twenty-five percent. Ant checkpoints, managed and urn by Grasshoppers, were established to assure Grasshoppers that no ant was provide unauthorized access to any garden.

 

The fifth year the gardens reduced by half, there were few bees left to pollinate the crops. The coalition hired more Grasshoppers to man fewer Ant checkpoints.

 

The sixth year the birds were gone from the few remaining gardens. Grasshopper check point workers went on strike for higher wages and greater authority.

 

NBC concluded its "The True Science of Science of Birds and Bees" miniseries with the confirmed finding that it was just as well that the birds and bees left because they were conclusively shown to be a threat to the production of food. MSNBC varied the miniseries as its lead story for two weeks.

 

The seventh year the Coalition passed a resolution to ban bees from flying because they had failed in their duty to pollinate food crops. Many ants starved.

 

The eighth year birds were banned from the territory because there was now little wild food available where they flew. Most ants were thrown off their properties and out of their homes.

 

Grasshoppers were elected to the Board of Directors for all mainstream news networks.

 

The ninth year the coalition issued a proclamation that, due to their important leadership positions, Grasshoppers had a divine right to food first, before and above all others. The United Grasshopper Checkpoint Workers Union moved its members from now-useless checkpoints to Grasshopper food distribution centers. The proclamation was enforced by seizing the few remaining ant homes and throwing residents out in the snow of winter.

 

Neither CNN, nor ABC, nor Fox News, nor NBC, nor MSNBC reported the news about seizing ant homes.

So it is now told in stories around campfires that during the tenth winter of that nation's soul a young ant shrugged, carefully packed his few scraps of food, picked up his few remaining belongings, walked out through the snowdrifts, and moved to the desert that Grasshoppers created . . .

 

The Moral of the Cycle: Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.


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