The eagle did not run unopposed for selection as our national symbol. Ben Franklin nominated the turkey. Don't be too hasty to conclude that old Ben's best years must have been behind him. The turkey of Ben's day wasn't quite the bird we put on the Thanksgiving table. Those clumsy birds that can't even breed by themselves were unknown in the eighteenth century.
The bird Ben had in mind was more akin to the wild turkeys now roaming much of my home state of Michigan and many other states. If you have seen these wily birds in their habitat, you know they aren't . . . they just aren't . . . I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's an injustice to call such noble birds turkeys.
Others have questioned the wisdom of making the eagle our national symbol. The soaring eagle is a majestic sight. The bird is strong. It's powerful. It's quick. The eagle is also a vicious predator. It is known to eat carrion (dead stuff). Of course, vicious predator is not a characteristic unknown in the human species. Humans also commonly eat dead stuff. The humans who eat live stuff are the ones who seem strange. Most of us are too young to have witnessed that passing fad of swallowing live gold fish. Remember Ozzy Osbourne and the chicken heads?
I'm not concerned about the merit, or the lack of merit, of turkeys and eagles. I do, however, propose to change our national bird. What is my nomination? The ant. Someone is bound to point out, the ant isn't even a bird. It isn't the ant's fault it's not a bird. It would be politically incorrect to discriminate against the ant because of the form in which it was created. The ant has as much right to be the national bird as you do.
Why did I choose the ant? I bet you never guessed I was going to get to that. Ants are industrious. They work together. They get the job done. Not only that. They tackle what would seem an impossible job if they stopped to worry about it. Instead of fretting about the difficulties, the ant grabs a grain of sand and is on its way. The ant doesn't stop until the job is finished. Of course, the ant's job is never finished.
Our nation needs more ants. The tasks before us are enormous. No eagle is going to swoop down out of the sky and carry away our problems. Even the great eagles that nest on the banks of the Potomac River don't have that kind of power. Those Potomac eagles claim they have all sorts of powers. You may have noticed, their performances don't live up to their claims. We need millions of ants, each carrying a grain of sand. It is the only way we will ever do the job.
Why do we need the ant as our symbol? When all we can do is drag a grain of sand, it's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to give up. If everybody drops that grain of sand there is no hope for a better future. In fact, there will be no hope that the future won't grow even darker than the present.
Just like with the ant, our jobs will never be done. This is not reason for despair. Mowing the lawn, washing dishes, shoveling snow, cleaning the house, and many other tasks are never done. What would happen if we, or the ant, shunned all the tasks that can't be finished?
From the edge of despair we need to be able to look up and see the symbol of the ant. It will serve as a reminder of the importance of moving that grain of sand. It will remind us that there is no other way. The ant can inspire us all to do our part to build a better America.
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Thoughts, Ramblings and Observations
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