Wednesday, May 8, 2013

we are all ants

Some ants can't have sex yet they are able to reproduce.

It was a problem proposed to challenge Charles Darwin's theory some centuries ago and I think his answer to it sheds light on what it is to be human.

He proposed that each ant was produced by the queen with a goal of aiding and promoting the survival of the colony.  Each ant, regardless to its sexual or physical disposition,  was graded on the same scale of how effective it was with this goal.  If any ant was indeed effective in helping the colony is any way it was only obvious that the queen who produced that ant would have a better chance to survive another day and produce more of that ant.  If you just think of the colony as one body and the Queen as the sexual reproductive organ of it, you don't need to have every individual ant capable of sexual reproduction - the queen will take care of their posterity.

Now where do humans fit in?

Just imagine every cell in our body as a single ant in a colony.  They each have a specific job to do and the effectiveness they are at this determines the overall success of the body wherein they live, but they are each still an individual living organism with its own unique genetical makeup.

If you could communicate with ants and were to ask the queen if she knew the whereabouts of every one of her offspring at all times I'm am 99% sure she would spit in your face for asking such a ridiculous question.  Why?  Well, apart from the fact ants still haven't developed telepathic communication, each ant, although to some degree mindless, still has some sort of mind and with it some degree of autonomy.  As such it shouldn't be too difficult to imagine the possibility of one ant of the millions born every minute to NOT do its job correctly.  Our genetically savvy minds can justify this even further by understanding the role inversion plays in shaking up the gene pool and how it sometimes messes it up(here).  But if you were to ask The Queen if all her offspring were doing their job correctly she would smile and say yes.  How would she know?  Simple.  She is alive.  The reason many of these rogue ants that don't do their job are not easily noticed is because they simply don't survive long enough to be.  Why?  Simple.  They greatly hinder the colony from staying alive (I feel like dancing right now for some reason) and are thus quickly squashed, and the tendency to reproduce another one of its kind is lessened until the sands of time erode it completely from the gene pool.

WE are no different.

I'm not saying our bodies house a complex division of labor between an army of ants, I'm saying its an army of organs, and within them an army of organelles, and within them an army of cells, and within them an army of  chromosones, and within them an army of DNA and within them an army of............viruses?    HAHAHAHA!!!!!!!  (I will save that last part for a day when the current heirechy of scientific thought is governed by a new breed of human)

The only difference between ants and humans is that ants house their division of labor in individual mobile bodies while humans house it in one mobile body.

Each cell in our body is no different from each ant in its colony and although our cells are to some degree mindless, just like ants, they are still autonomous and as such are to some degree free like an ant is free from its colony.  Therefore it should not be difficult to imagine a cell that just doesn't do it's job and gets away with it.  Our genetically savvy minds can justify this so much that we have given these cells a special name.  But just like the queen ant can gauge the success of her colony by her continuing to be alive, so do we concerning the livelihood of our own bodies.

The unique thing about humans that works for but also against us is our self consciousness.   It allows us to accumulate past knowledge we have aquired about our bodies and take measures to protect them, i.e. excercising, eating the right foods, avoiding the wrong ones etc.  The con is our emotions blind us from the reality of who is in control.  We think WE are in control.  We think the eternal health of our bodies is in our hands.  We think if we become ill it is because WE didn't eat our veggies.  We think if our bodies change in any way it is a result of something WE did.  We think WE are responsible for everything that happens to us.  While this is true to a certain extent, it isn't to the extent WE think.  We have forgotten that our bodies are just a huge colony of ant-like cells and they are the ones behind the curtains pulling the strings and calling the shots.  While gaining weight from eating fast food every day could be considered a failure WE commited, being born with big bones cannot; yet so many of us think it is.

If you are still having a hard time coping with the idea that you are not in reality the Lord of your body and that they are in fact under the control of a much smaller and much more simple organism, let me propose a question that might put your heart at ease.
Imagine if we were given the ability to understand the world as we do now while we were still a fetus in our momma's womb.......WE WOULD ALL BE DEAD NO DOUBT!!!!

I for one would have gone from self asphyxiation. (I honestly cannot believe I spelled that correctly on my first try)  My insatiable curiosity would have twisted and tugged on that umbilical cord until I was swimming in my own lifeblood without a drop to drink.

We all would go in unique and equally hilarious ways because WE are stupid.  Simple.  We, as we currently perceive ourselves, wouldn't even be able to make it out of our mother's vagina alive, so how the hell do you think we could make a heart and brain and lungs?  This should be enough of a reason to convince even the most staunch donkey of a man that we clearly could not have survived this long if WE were in charge of our bodies.

From the ant's viewpoint it all makes a bit more sense.  Each cell in our body has a role.  There was a group in charge of assuring we were developed into a healthy baby, and that we grew into a strong and sturdy child all in preparation for the time our conscious minds took over because our cells knew that when that happened we would convince ourselves we knew everything and that we should drown our potential in a sea of debauchery.  Yet they are still in charge today as i write this.  They have created such an amazing body of survival that as I stand now, if I started practicing every harmful activity known to man, If I threw all appreciation for health and peace of mind away, I would still be able to survive for another decade of two before my body finally turned off.  And during that time It would be very likely that I would succumb to the one of the many sexual urges that would befall me and impregnate another person and all my cells would have successfully done their job of surviving into the next generation of life.

Aren't you glad you aren't in charge of all that.  It seems like a very stressful job to make a heart and keep it beating, and always communicate (on time) with the brain about the whats going on, and to continually search out dangerous foreign objects and fight them off.  And to think the only thing YOU have to do to support this insane process that happens every day all day of our lives is eat right, barely exercise, and sleep about 6-7 hours a night, your cells do the rest.

Now do you see how little control you actually have?

1 comment:

  1. Well written. Great metaphor to explain how little in control we are of our bodies and how little we know of all the things going on in our ant capsule bodies.