The Ant and the Grasshopper….

The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994One of my favorite stories of all time has to be the story about the Ant and the Grasshopper, an Aesop Fable.

As the story goes, the Grasshopper, not attentive to his future needs, spends the warm days of Spring and Summer, playing his music, dancing and laying about. Never thinking about the upcoming Winter and his needs during the season of cold and desolate solitude. Conversely, the Ant, ever diligent in his duty to his colony, continues to work feverishly throughout the Spring and Summer and well into late Autumn storing food and supplies in preparation for the upcoming frigid temperatures of Winter.

Near the end of the story, cold and desperate, the Grasshopper approaches the Ant and asks for food. The Ant replies “…you danced and played music all Summer long, you should do so in the Winter as well.” Eventually, the Grasshopper dies of exposure.

Jacob’s translation (1894)

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

In today’s America, this Fable would seem cruel and unjust. Society in general would ask, then eventually demand; And finally, look toward the Government to take away a portion of the Ant’s food stores in order to nourish the starving Grasshopper. In fact, Walt Disney studios did a remake of this Fable showing true communist intentions by changing the ending of the story to where the Ants allowed the Grasshopper entrance to their colony, assisted with the warming of the lame and lazy Grasshopper, fed him and eventually, the “Queen” of the colony offered him sanctuary in return for his playing of the fiddle and dancing for the Ant’s entertainment. An entirely communistic look at how the “Liberal Arts” are valuable to society in that entertainment is somehow as valuable as hard work; An entirely offensive idea to me. I value liberal arts, to the point as a secondary endeavor only. One may indulge themselves in a artsy type endeavor, but only after the work day is done and appropriate preparations are complete, not as a primary source of income to the average person, nor as an avenue that one should exclusively travel. There’s more to life than a funny joke, a song or a pretty painting. To succeed in life, one should put forth hard work and effort, not bask in the gratitudes of awestruck followers.

My thought on the subject is thus: To the Grasshopper, you shall find my boot upon thy head and with a thud, SQUISH! is all that you shall hear.

Too many people in today’s society tend to not think about the future, even as near as the upcoming Winter season, let alone for their own retirement. I often see individuals living only for the moment, for they think they will not live for the future. Even with a bleak outlook on things to come, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to be prepared for a fate not yet revealed. While it may be true that your own demise is near, the future of your loved ones, friends and family, shall endure past your lifetime. Do not shirk your responsibilities to those around you. Stand up and work today, for tomorrow may not find you as you have considered – dead and gone, but injured and alone.

By no means do I attempt to persuade you that I subscribed to this philosophy my entire life. If that really was the case, I would now be able to retire. That’s far from the truth. The truth is, I knew this story, believed in it when I was really young and attempted to prepare myself for a future of hard work. That didn’t happen. I turned myself into the Grasshopper and learned the hard way. While I did not wait until Winter, the end of Summer has past and I am definitely entering early Fall. Knowing and doing are two totally different things entirely. Maybe by sharing my perspective on this, someone will consider and follow in the footsteps of the Ant, rather than the Grasshopper.