ISSUE 9

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  Tea is a gateway beverage. It’s tea one day and the next you’re sucking down quadruple shot cappuccinos every three hours just to stay normal, begging at the street corner in faded jeans and a thrift store jacket that used to be red but is now something closer to not red. Let’s just thank the Lord that England is across the Atlantic and that insurance doesn’t cover extra arms. At least Allstate doesn’t; maybe State Farm does.  
 It does make you think though. If our society functioned as well as an ant’s, then what? Beside the whole no breaks thing and the life expectancy, their life seems perfect, like a little too perfect, like heaven-like perfect. No unemployment, a somewhat benevolent dictatorship, the concept of happiness eliminated and substituted with an ethos of work. Every single ant has their perfect life because they can’t conceive of a better one, which seems depressing to us, but the average ant doesn’t know that. Contrary to popular belief, brainlessness has significant advantages.
  Totalitarianism really only goes off the tracks when you have someone like Nero or Satan directing an empire, but if we could be assured that our leader would always do the right thing, dictatorship is the way to go. That’s really who most people think God is and a benevolent totalitarian government is what most monotheists hope heaven will be like—or at least in modern Christianity and Islam. Not Judaism though. Jewish God is New Testament God with severe problems.   The Old Testament is a single-parent father dealing with the most intelligent morons on the planet and coming to terms the fact that he created them. And “coming to terms” means God embraces alcoholism, refuses to take his meds, and wipes out humanity in a flood or makes all the men cut off their… you know what, and then on the flipside apologizing and handing out covenants like discount car wash pamphlets. The New Testament is when God gets sober and starts acting like a proper deity, though he does send his son to, you know, die, which seems a bit abusive.
  But if God were mentally stable, did away with the whole freedom thing, and made us all mindless, happy ants or—if you’re into the whole atheism thing—a human equivalent did the same, we wouldn’t have such a bad time of it, except when you want to do something besides gather food or not get smashed by frolicking, mass-ant-murdering children or want to go to the grocery store and lift that gallon of milk... Okay, so yeah, there might be some problems.

  If humans were as small as ants, a trip to the grocery store would take forever, like literally a life time for a gallon of milk. This is not to mention the fact we couldn’t lift our dearly bought gallon of milk once we got there, which has to be the definition of a crappy life. So, you may have it rough but probably not as bad as an ant—unless you’re addicted to cocaine, then you do.
 Though if any creature would spend its life accomplishing such an admirable, utterly pointless task, it would probably be the ant. Classically speaking, the ant is a parable of diligence and the epitome of the Protestant work ethic, while also being the spirit animal of the industrious, the fashionably hopeless, and those whose hips are anatomically opposed to dancing.
  Ants, however, should be a parable for autocratic dictatorship. They are very simply the most efficient and effective totalitarian government to have ever existed. Not only do they have a division of labor and a clear chain of command, but they’ve colonized every single continent on the earth, except Antarctica because no one wants to live in Antarctica. They only spend a mere sixteen minutes a day sleeping, though the United Ant Worker Union had to lobby for years to get that.
  They are billions of more or less identical cogs working together in perfect communistic unity, gathering food, building tunnels, having very methodical ant sex. It’s too bad Marx is dead because he would probably use ants as a longwinded example in one of his treatises—not that many would read it all the way through. Most people would probably go until they got the gist and then skip to the conclusion, except for the poor academics who don’t have anywhere to go on a Friday night.
  Though maybe ants enjoy their dull, repetitive existence. Much like cats, they could believe we are simply visitors on their planet who will eventually die out just like the short-armed Tyrannosaurus and the Cro-Magnon, the semi-nomadic, crappy toolmakers. Yes, it’s very possible ants feel sorry for us, the sedentary, more destructive toolmakers, despite the fact that ants don’t have TV, Facebook, iPhones, or… cars… or… fishing. They definitely miss out on the fishing. Sigh.
  Maybe ants do have it better; maybe the Tyrannosaurus should have evolved longer arms; maybe a liberal arts degree is worth it. The only question that’s left is how to get two extra arms like the ant. Is that possible? Is there like a cheap-ish surgery to stick a couple of appendages on your hip bones? And whatever happened to unconstitutional monarchies? If we could, say, trade our freedom for a queen and possibly a low-level addiction to tea, would we be better off? Dear god no.