There are three million species of animals living in tropical rain forests, and one of them, the red fire ant, lives underground. Under constant threat of annihilation from flash floods. Nature doesn’t care. If a species wants to survive, it has to prove it deserves too. When the floods come, fire ants hold on to each other, creating a living raft that can float until the water recedes. Months, if necessary.
So how does a species figure something like that out? Instinct? Trial and error? Was there one fire ant who was being swept away by the rushing water and grabbed on to another ant, only to find that together they could float? What if you were the one who knew what needed to be done but you had no words? How do you make the others understand? How do you call for help?
Human beings are not the strongest species on the planet. We’re not the fastest, or maybe even the smartest. The one advantage we have is our ability to cooperate to help each other out. We recognize ourselves in each other, and we’re programmed for compassion, for heroism, for love. And those things make us stronger, faster and smarter. It’s why we’ve survived. It’s why we even want to.
(Originally posted on September 21, 2012)