An Allegory

There are many similes and metaphors teachers can use to describe what it’s like to be a teacher these days, running on a treadmill, a mountain being capped by snow, etc.

This morning, I woke with that sentence on my mind, and had to add but to it. Because those comparisons are old and trite in my mind, I’d much prefer to use an allegory at this moment…

There lived a colony of ants that had been in existence for decades (in ant time). Everyone worked hard and did their job. The Hunter and Gatherer ants hunted and gathered. The Guardian ants patrolled the anthill. The Digger ants dug further to increase their kingdom for the growing population. The Special Teams ants were so good that any time a hint of water was in the air, they had the path to the surface shut down so quickly that they hadn’t had a flood…well, ever now that I come to think of it.  The Queen never feared her protection. She fulfilled all her queenly duties each day and sat at the great table for dinner every night.

However, as with all things, good things come to halt once in a while. The Queen became ill. The illness seeped into the very tips of her antennae, so she did what any other queen ant had done in the past, appointed her eldest daughter.

The New Queen’s lineage extended further than the existence of the anthill, so her colony was under the impression that things would remain the same. After all, their training had been geared specifically to their job to assure quality control.

The New Queen attended weekly meetings with the Super Queen. At these meetings, she learned of the Westward Expansion Plan. All of the other ant colonies in the area were to expand their domain by the length of five blades of grass each week. Prior to the death of the Queen, the colony had been right on track with their expansion goals. The week after the change in monarchy, they had fallen short one blade since there had been a daylong celebration. The New Queen was furious, for if she was to live up the expectations of the Super Queen, she would have to be stricter.

When she came home, she didn’t go around talking to the workers to assess any needs. Instead, she called a meeting with the leaders of all the different areas.

“I was told that we are behind on the Westward Expansion Plan. We were short one blade of grass this week. That is unacceptable!” she shouted as she pounded a fist on her throne.

“But your Highness, we have been ahead all along. Each week, we dig six lengths. This week, we only dug five, so we actually did meet the requirement,” said the Lead Digger.

“I do not care! Do you have any idea to the ONLY one at the meeting with the Super Queen who was told that we’d been short on our goals?”

All the Lead Digger could do was bow his antennae and stare at the ground.

“From now on, Ant Patrol will also be on digging duty,” said the New Queen.

“But Madame, who will guard the colony?” asked the Lead Guardian.

“The hunter and gatherers can do that, too,” she demanded.

“We may have to shorten our trails if we need to patrol in addition to gathering food and supplies and that may mean less food for everyone,” said the Lead Hunter and Gatherer.

“Well, we’ll just have to live with it,” said the New Queen, “the Expansion Project is our most important goal right now. We need to get ahead.”

So the lead ants returned to their groups and told them about the new plan. The Diggers felt embarrassed and hurt that they needed help, when in fact, they had been doing a great job. The Guardians were worried that something could happen to the anthill in their absence, and the Hunter and Gatherers felt overwhelmed by the idea of doing two jobs at once.

The only group that had been left unburdened by this whole ordeal was the Special Teams who upon hearing of the new plan, offered to help with what they could. Since the Special Teams was quite small, all that was left as a last defense were two newbie ants that had been on the job less than a week. 

Despite this, the new plan seemed to be working because at the next meeting with the Super Queen, the New Queen received praise for having expanded the seven lengths.

However, when she got back to her colony, the paths were hollowed.

“Hello,” she called out, but all she heard was the echo of her voice.

She crawled toward the surface of the earth and began to see some disturbing images. The ground was saturated with water instead of simply moist. Floating in a little puddle of water was the body of one of the newbie Special Teams ants. The New Queen gasped in horror, “What going on here?”

At the surface, there were more bodies. Some had been drowned others fried. Then she heard a menacing laugh coming from above, “What do we have here? The Queen Ant?”

She felt something clip the tip of her wings. She shrieked, calling out to the Lead Guard, but she knew that she was doomed as she became squished between the padding of two fingers.

Her avarice and pride had cost her not only her life, but also the lives of her colony.

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