Sunday, 15 January 2012

Self sacrifice

He struggles on, lost, disorientated, alone,
The water tugs at his heels, slowing him.
But his lonely death is already assured,
To his kind separation is death.
An adventurer or a loner, lost and forgotten,
Sacrificed to the nests constant need for nourishment.
No poems will be written to his passing,
No statues erected in his memory.
For in a society that cares only about the survival of the whole,
The death of one means nothing.

I wrote this poem after finding an ant struggling to get out of a basin with the water droplets slowing it. I helped it out, at the same time realising the futility of doing so, because apparently once separated from the scent trails made by others in their nest, ants are sure to die. It seemed callous that this was fine as long as the hive survived. 

Then I wondered, are our societies the same in regards to our opinions relating to war or social justice issues like homelessness, health care, drug addiction, and economic competition?

Your thoughts?


  1. Profound reflections...while it might seem merciless, in many cases survival of the species calls for sacrifice on the part of one of some. Many times this sacrifice is willingly given. With the human race, that is why in crisis often the women & children are saved first, not because they are weaker, but because they can carry on the species.

    In the case of drug addiction and such, as merciless as it may seem, these weaken a race. In the animal kingdom, nature eliminates these. We humans exercise more mercy, yet they do contaminate and weaken the species. While no one wants to eliminate others, in times of crisis sometimes sacrifice has to be made. It is often the case that those who can carry on the family/breed/species is the ones saved first. This is not merciless...merely survival.

  2. Thanks for the comment Dorianna! Sorry I've taken so long to reply but I was trying to think how to reply.

    The sad truth is that you are right in much of what you say, especially in regards to times of crisis. In my work at World Vision I have heard of mothers fleeing famine in Somalia (which took some families 23 days of walking) with their children having to make the decision to leave the weakest children behind or to stop feeding them, so that the others have a chance at surviving. Or during the forced marches of the Chinese Great Leap Forward (/Backward) or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, there are stories of old relatives refusing food and deciding to stay on the side of the road and die so that their grandchildren have a chance.

    My only concern is that this doesn't need to happen in essentially normal circumstances, for example in a city as prosperous as New York there needn't be tens of thousands of homeless people.