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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)

TITLE: The Unstable Society of Anteaters
By Sharon Kane


(An allegory for children)

Once upon a time in a land far away lived a society of anteaters. They lived simply and in harmony with everything around them. They ate ants of course, but never more than they needed. If you could watch them eat, your eyes would pop open in wonder and amazement. First you would see them approach the anthill with care. Then you would hear them speak gently to the ants, saying, “Little brothers, forgive me. I am hungry and I must eat. Please show me where the old ants live. Then I will not disturb the nursery where your young are sleeping.”

After that you would watch the anteater walk slowly around the anthill sniffing the walls until he came to a doorway that smelled old. You would watch him break open that doorway with his strong snout, push in his long sticky tongue, and eat his fill. Then if you watched very carefully you would notice a thoughtful look on his face as he bowed his head and thanked the ants for supplying his dinner. You would hear in his thanks a solemn promise never again to disturb them, and then you would see him leave. If you so chose you could mark that anteater with a cut in the ear, or by cropping his tail. You could watch that anthill day and night until your eyes grew red with weariness, your head ached with the heat of the noonday sun, your fingernails turned to claws and your hair looked like the coat of a woolly mammoth, but you would never see him disturb that anthill again.

The anteaters lived in family groups, and they gave space to other families. Sometimes two families would meet each other, and the daddies would wrestle to see who would stay and eat the ants in that place. They didn't kill each other because they knew the mummies and children would cry. They simply fought until one grew tired and then that one would lead his family to live somewhere else. The stronger daddy and his family would stay and eat the ants in the anthills around that place. They knew they did not need to kill each other for there would always be enough ants for them all.

One day something terrible happened in that land. Some giant anteaters arrived. Nobody knew where they came from. Some said they fell from the sky while others said they came from a land beyond the edge of the world. These giant anteaters did not understand how to live in the beautiful land they had found. The old daddies tried to teach them their ways, but the giants did not listen. Instead they fought the old daddies and, because they were giants, they killed some of them. This made the mummies and children sad, so the original anteaters went and hid in the high mountains and the hot deserts. They were never seen again.

The giants did not speak nicely to the ants. In fact they did not speak to them at all! They used their huge powerful snouts and their long sharp claws to rip into the anthills. They pushed in their long sticky tongues and ate everything: young ants, old ants, sick ants, strong ants – even baby ants and ant eggs. They reached in deeper and deeper, breaking the anthill apart until all that was left were the empty cavities. And then they left with not a word either of thanks or of apology.

These giant anteaters were very strong and they had lots of babies. Soon they were roaming all over the land, destroying the anthills everywhere they went. Before long there were not enough ants left for all of them to eat and they had to walk far to find new anthills. The hungry anteaters started to fight and kill each other. Some of the anteaters became worried. What would they eat once all the ants were gone? They pleaded with the big daddies to find a way to stop their food supply from running out, but the big daddies would not listen. They just kept gorging themselves on the ants and never thought of what would happen once the very last anthill was destroyed.

What do you think will happen to this society of anteaters? Can they survive? What would you like to say to the giant daddy anteaters if you had the chance? Does this story remind you of anything happening in our world?

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Member Comments
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Jan Ackerson 01/15/09
It's an interesting allegory, with good use of the writer's craft.

But...I don't get the allegory. I know that I should, and that it's probably political, but I just don't get who the two groups of anteaters are meant to be. Sorry.

Maybe after hinting starts, you can clue me in. I'll keep working on it, because it's really piqued my interest.
Dara Sorensen01/19/09
I know this is supposed to be an allegory of the U.S. (as evident in the title) but I'm unsure who the small anteaters and large anteaters are.

The one thing I thought was that the small were Christians and the founders of the nation. The large ones I'm thinking are ones more secular that have taken over and made the Christians hide.

Or perhaps I completely off on this :P I really am curious what each group is supposed to represent!
Chely Roach01/20/09
Okay, I think I get the allegory...
The original anteaters are the Native Americans, the giant anteaters are the settlers, and the savaged ants are the buffalo. Perhaps.
Very interesting lesson here, convicting, too. Nice job!
Gregory Kane01/20/09
This is not my entry but I know the author won't mind my dropping a hint.
Yes, the allegory has to do with the native americans. I'll leave you to work out the rest by yourselves. It's a clever story.
The problem with all allegories is that they depend on people catching on. See my 'Star Pilot' for an example of an allegory that bombed because it was too clever!
Diana Dart 01/20/09
This entry really made me think - perhaps it is a tad confusing, but the plus is that I really didn't mind reading it over a few more times. The flow is good - seems a bit rushed at the end with the giant anteaters, but that makes sense in view of the story.
Very thought provoking to say the least. Given the hint (due to those lovely yellow boxes) that the small anteaters are natives has cleared up quite a bit for me and made it easier to see the rest of the story.
Eliza Evans 01/21/09
Really good!
GREAT job on characterization. I'm impressed.

The only thing that didn't click for me was her *knowing* he was dead. As humans we tend to cling to hope against hope against hope. Acceptance being the last stage of grief.

Just a thought.

Thanks for sharing this.
Very good entry. :)
Eliza Evans 01/21/09

I am so sorry. The above comment is for a different entry. I am not sure how that happened. Humble apologies!!
Teresa Lee Rainey01/21/09
OK, with the hint of the first anteaters being Native Americans, then the giant anteaters would have been the English settlers, right? So at first thought I would have asked the giants “Why didn’t you leave the original anteaters in peace? Only, as a descendant of both types of anteaters, I’m torn. Despite the obvious errors of the giants, were the original anteaters truly civil - or was that only in the way they respected the land? Was it possibly necessary for the original anteaters to be overtaken by the giants in order for future generations to come to know Christ?

Excellent food for thought here. :)
Angela M. Baker-Bridge01/21/09
This is well-written, I understood it was settlers overpowering the native Americans, but didn't understand how it would be considered a children's story. I'm also not sure how well it fit the topic, creative as it is. Hopefully the judges will disagree with me. Blessings,
Sharon Kane01/27/09
OK, here goes!
The original anteaters are the Native Americans.
The giant anteaters are the settlers who took over the land, using (at least part of the time) more force than was necessary.
The second part of the tale refers to how the Western lifestyle is destroying the environment and causing major problems for the coming generation. The USA is, sadly, the world leader in this area, particularly in terms of its dependence on oil and the environmental consequences of this. (To be fair, China is rapidly catching up.)
The story was written primarily to raise awareness of and to encourage debate on environmental issues. How well are we looking after God's world? And what inheritance are we leaving for our children?
Clyde Blakely06/24/09
As with most countries, including Great Britian, there were residences there prior to the current population moving in (Native Americans, of which I have Choctaw heritage, can serve in any elected office, including the presidency). Sadly, many countries do not have their "natives any more.
The USA was the world's leading producer of industrial waste. There were three phases - the frist was industrial revolution, in which most of the world took part in. The other two were after America entered both world wars to save the rest of the "civilized world" from speaking German or Japanese - both episodes resulted in great industrial growth and prosperity for the USA and most of the rest of the world.
China overtook the USA as far as being the worse polluter in 2006. China is building the equilavent of 50 to 70 new gigawatt(very large) coal-burning plants every year. Just one gigawatt coal plant burns one ton of coal every 10 seconds! Or the equilavent of 3 tons of carbon dioxide every 10 seconds for each plant.