Ants and Uncles

Have you ever heard of the expression, ‘cry uncle’ or ‘say uncle’? In case you haven’t, it means to submit or give in to someone else.

During my childhood, this most often happened when two of my friends were fighting, and one had the other in a headlock. The ‘locker’ would make the ‘lockee’ utter the phrase, ‘say uncle’, before releasing their grip. Usually it required some tightening before this occurred.

As you can imagine, it’s not a pleasant experience for the ‘lockee’.

It seems to me that there is a grown-up version of this practice. Every so often I witness one person trying to force another into a verbal headlock, demanding their submission.

Maybe all they really want is for the other person to agree with them. But, more often than not, it becomes a classic power struggle, where one person wins and the other losses. This doesn’t feel good either.

Why is winning so popular? Why do we sometimes feel such a need to be in control of others?

Intriguing questions.

Here’s another, which at first glance, may seem unrelated.

Do you have any idea how much an ant can lift? According to scientists who study ants, they can lift between 10-50 times their own body weight. So, if I had their strength, that would mean that on my best day I could lift over 9,000 pounds. That’s the weight of one of those monster trucks that drives over the top of a bunch of cars, crushing them to pieces.

Wow, are ants amazing creatures or what?

Here’s another thing you might not know. The average colony is made up of thousands of ants. There are even ‘super colonies’ that number more than three million ants living together.

That’s shocking to me.

During the early spring, for some reason, ants want to live in our house. I have no idea what they are looking for or how they get in, but for a period of several months they apparently want to commune with Maureen and me.

Ordinarily, if I can, I coax them into an old empty Dove soap box (which I call the ‘bug box’) and escort them back outside. I have no real idea, but I suspect some are repeat offenders.

Occasionally, before transporting them, I will sit and watch them. I’ve seen them lift what I consider to be HUGE things and then easily carry them away. They never seem to give up nor submit to any of the challenges they face.

Perhaps one reason is that there aren’t other ants telling them they CAN’T lift or carry the item they intend to walk away with. Without being told it’s IMPOSSIBLE, they just go ahead, bite down on the item and move along.

I admire them a great deal. I think it’s awesome that they don’t say ‘uncle’ when faced with difficulties and that they aren’t adversely influenced by other ants.

I want to be more like them. I want to believe all things in my life are possible. I want to believe I am capable of lifting things far greater than I’ve previously thought could be done. I want to do amazing things, like they do.

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Power

Recently, my wife and I were babysitting our two local grandchildren. Their family lives near a very active train yard and we’re pretty used to all of its noises. The screeching of rail car wheels against the tracks and the loud slamming and banging of train cars being coupled. And, all of the whistles.

But, what we heard last Wednesday went far beyond any of these sounds. It was as if every train car in the yard had suddenly been picked up and smashed into one another in some kind of massive train wreck.

It turns out, it wasn’t trains we heard, it was the wind. It howled and shook the house. It destroyed trees, pulling some enormous giants out by their roots and simply tossing them aside.

The devastation was mind blowing and widespread.

And, of course, the power went out. Went out and stayed out.

Once my wife and I were home it was time to go into action. Time to find all of the flashlights and candles and get out extra blankets for us, plus one for my 96-year-old mom, who stayed with us. Of course, there was one more important thing to remember, don’t open the refrigerator door!

You probably have your own tales to tell about power outages, so you know how the story goes. No heat, no food, no light, no TV or computer. And for us, no cell phone, since we don’t have a car charger.

No communication with the outside world.

Powerless.

The part of me that wasn’t feeling sorry for myself understood this is the way vast portions of the world’s population feel every single day of their lives.

I don’t mean being without electricity, although there are many who exist this way. I mean feeling powerless to have the kind of life they want, for themselves and for their families. Powerless, with no real prospect for that to change. Powerless, and probably, hopeless.

I thought of all the people whose whole world falls apart due to some calamity. Some outside or inside force that shatters their lives.

I thought of those who deal with disease or oppression or racial injustice or malnutrition. The list goes on and on.

I thought, what is my powerlessness compared to theirs?

You might be wondering, what is the message of inspiration here?

Well, part of the answer is found in knowing how our electricity was restored. PEOPLE. Humans reconnecting wires and reestablishing a path for the power to travel.

People working together we are capable of incredible things. We’ve been able to reach out and touch the moon and beyond. We’ve discovered new medicines, saved rain forests, created new ways to harness energy. This list goes on and on too.

People working together we can do amazing things. Perhaps we can even offer hope to the powerless. No doubt, there are a million ways to do this.

Choosing just one can make a difference.

We all can make a difference.

We don’t have to cure everything in the world. But, imagine if one million people did one thing to help restore power.

That too would be mind blowing.