Ancient wisdom preserved in the Book of Proverbs has been guiding us through the Age of Covid. Its lessons may sound like common sense because that’s what they are. But it seems that common sense has become a bit less common lately.
A delightful feature of Proverbs are the many sayings that present insights drawn from nature. For example, Proverbs is fascinated by ants:
Go to the ant, you lazybones
Consider its ways and be wise
It’s an audacious claim. The ancient sage was telling us that attention to the ant won’t just prove fascinating, it will actually impart the gift of wisdom! The thing is, he was right.
Consider indeed the ant. In this age of covid we struggled to find sufficient discipline to maintain social isolation. No problem there for ants. Studies have shown that ants who feel ill automatically separate themselves from their community.
Ants live in communities created by mutual cooperation and attention to the common good. For example, an ant that finds food creates a pheromone trail to that food that every other ant is free to follow. Some ants work together to form farms where they cultivate fungus which is shared with their whole colony. A few ants even have a form of language based on vibrations which they use to teach their young various life skills. Faced with a threat, ant colonies pull together as one to ward off the danger.
These are just a few of many amazing ant behaviours. Consider indeed the ant! But is there something particular that the Book of Proverbs wants us to see? Take a look at the ending of the Proverb I started above:
Without having any chief
or officer or ruler
It prepares its food in summer
and gathers sustenance in harvest
The point isn’t just that ants are amazing (though they are). The point is that they do all they do without ever having to be told, paid or rewarded. They don’t need Dr. Fauci to nag them before they think about others. They never heard the phrase “What’s in it for me”. If they had a phrase to live by it would likely be something like this code blue proverb (blue being the color of the wise):
A friend loves at all times and
a brother is born for adversity