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40k for 40 Days

February 8:
Day 23

40k for 40 days

February 8: Day 23

Day 23 - Who is Shaking the Jar and Why?

Red fire ants and Black ants, friends, or foes?

I'm not entirely sure where I have heard this and who originally said it, but I've reheard versions of this metaphor about the red and black ants being brought together and the curious but natural reaction to each other, when left alone. I have no doubt that us humans are just the same.

It goes something like this....

"If you collect 100 black ants and 100 fire ants and put them in a glass jar, nothing will happen. But if you take the jar, shake it violently and leave it on the table, the ants will start attacking & killing each other. Red believes that black is the enemy, while black believes that red is the enemy, when the real provocateur/enemy/foe is the person who shook the jar."

The same is true in society. Refugee vs National, Men vs Women, Ethnicity vs Ethnicity, Faith vs Faith, Heterosexual vs Homosexual, Young vs Old. Etc…"

For me, when looking for answers and ways of creating more peace and less conflict in my inner and outer world, I must ask myself and others the pertinent questions....before I start to attack, defend, or just fight the other (whoever the other may be), I must ask;

  • Who shook the jar?
  • Why did they shake the jar?

(and with these questions asked and answers sought),

  • What are the alternatives to fighting each other in this moment?

How do we unite, with common affliction, stories, humanity (red and black), to mount a common challenge to the very basic motivation of the glass shakers in our world.

Where possible, how and when do we invite the glass shakers into the glass to reconnect and share common human realities, emotions, suffering and aspirations, with both red, black, and other?

Has the glass shaker been shuck and how did that feel?

To strive towards lasting peace, how do we show compassion to those who try to afflict us and potentially, prevent the vicious cycle of victims, becoming victimizers?

What gives me optimism is knowing, believing work worthing with this following thought and motivation in mind....

The shakers of our world can learn and be taught how to feel what the red ant and black ant feel and can learn and be taught t to cognitively understand what it might be like to be in the jar. Empathy can be learned, taught, practiced, and used to reduce violence as well as harness compassion, and it must start today and with me.


Shane O'Connor



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