A program on the Natural History Channel shows amazing bonds between animals: an orangutan and a hound dog, a lioness and a baby oryx, a baby hippo and a giant tortoise, an elephant and a chow mix dog, a cat and a crow. Astonishing to watch the cat playfully bat the unconcerned crow, the orangutan hug the hound dog, the oryx, (an African deer) cuddle up next to the lioness. Experts explained, but the best explanation came from an animal keeper who said, “Love expresses itself in amazing ways.”
An opposite expression is seen in Earth’s most successful family: the Formicidae. Ants. More than 12,000 species inhabit every continent but Antarctica. Ant “farms” are popular toys, a thin glass box of dirt, with ant food, a magnifying glass, and a box of live ants, or you can use ants from the park or your back yard. But you must never mix in ants from another colony. If you do, instant mayhem. One colony attacks, destroys, and often eats the other.
Love and fear are survival strategies. Love flowers into creativity. Fear generates defense. Both are necessary. Among ants, identity belongs to the colony. Creating new individuals is left to specialists. Strangers are attacked and destroyed. Scientists characterize entire ant colonies as single organisms. If so, it is an organism ruled by hate. Humano sapiens, given free will, seeks a balance.
Murderers, torturers, tyrants, thieves, cheats, are ruled by hatred. Hate drove Osama bin Laden. Hate drove Bernie Madoff. Hate drives pitchmen and purveyers of worthless goods. Hate drives hypocritical pandering politicians. Against the power of hate, can love ever prevail? Are hate-driven people happy? Does happiness even matter?
Writer, Olaf Stapledon, imagined a planet dominated by love until destroyed by another planet driven by hate. People of the love planet, knowing they would die, entered a state of bliss until they ceased to exist.
Late afternoon on the day the Twin Towers had been destroyed, I taught a dance class, entered to see a question in every face. Dare we dance on this terrible day? Responding to that unvoiced question, I said, “This is a good day to dance.” And dance we did.