The queen ant leaned forward in her throne, balancing her head between her two upper legs. An idea was racing madly through her elegant brain, but it was the kind of an idea which one can never put a finger on, especially an ant. Disappointment spread over the face of the beautiful queen, as she crossly pushed away the blank sheet of paper in front of her. The pen, which she had picked up with her second leg set, dropped with a ping to the small tile floor. One of the many work ants, which surrounded the throne room, made a move toward the fallen pen. While, at the same time, two other handsomely dressed ants raced to re-fluff the cushions and dampen cloths for the forehead of the queen. The queen, who appeared to be quite out of sorts, looked sadly into the solemn eyes of the young ant who was holding the cloth on her forehead. The young ant, in return, moved his eyes toward the floor, as he had been conditioned to do in such a case.
“Dear young ant,” spoke the queen in a very gentle voice, “I am very anxious to help you and your fellow ants. I realize how hard it must be to live as a common working ant.”
The young ant, who was a little uncertain about how to handle such a touchy moment, reached back into his mind for some words he might have been taught at the Conditioning School for Young Male Ants, but he could not remember learning any such words. Frustrated with himself, the young ant boldly replied, “Dear queen, I am not fit for thy service. Please may I be excused, so that I might be executed in a manner which befits such a stupid ant as I.”
“No” the queen answered boldly, as a smile broke across her face. “No, I command you to remain in my service!”
The poor young ant, whose antennae had already fallen, began to cry desperately, “Dear queen, I couldn’t…I am just a stupid, oh dear.”
The other work ants had frozen in their places and were witnessing the whole scene with dumb-struck faces and tear-filled eyes. The queen jumped up boldly on her throne. She looked over her court with happy eyes, and screamed very loudly, “I love you all, and I want to give a present to each one of you to show my love!”
The female ants swayed in their shoes, and several of the male ants began to develop symptoms of a nervous breakdown. This seemed to make no difference to the queen, for she only smiled wider, and giggled louder.
“I will give you freedom. I will give you free will, free choice, free speech, free education…Oh my dear ants, all your years have been spent in serving me, now you shall be your own masters. You have freedom.”
“But what is freedom?” one of the boldest ants in the group finally managed to blurt out.
“Why my dear friends, it simply means that you are now as I am, and you can choose to do things, just as I always have done.” The queen answered patiently.
There was a moment full of silence amount the ants, as they each gave themselves a pinch. There was another moment full of realization as the work ants began to understand what the queen had said. A few of the young ants began to giggle nervously, but the older ants began tearing at their clothes and shedding huge ant tears.
Finally, an old ant stepped close to the queen and whispered in a cracked voice. “You have apparently experienced this ‘freedom’. Perhaps you could explain to us older ants, what we must do in order to appreciate freedom.”
“But” blurted out the queen, who had been taken a little off guard, “Well, you see, um…. To experience well it is quite simple, you just, all you do is, oh dear…I don’t know.” The queen fell back down into her throne.
“Your Highness, if I might suggest something?”
The queen, who was really a bit upset cried out, “Well, yes, go right ahead.”
The old ant leaned forward and began to speak in a thoughtful, determined way, “Well, freedom seems to be a state in which all ants would have the opportunity to decide what is best for themselves.”
All the ants seemed to agree that this was a reasonable conclusion. And the queen motioned him to continue.
“Aren’t we then implying that we all know what is best for ourselves?”
“Well yes” cried the queen, “that is exactly the point.”
“Well,” the old ant proceeded “What would happen if we all decided to would be best to stop working?”
The queen who was a bit confused, answered truthfully, “we should all die.”
“Exactly, and what would happen if each ant decided it would be best to tell all the other ants what they should do?”
“There would be no order!” said the queen.
“Quite right, you see dear queen, all ants do not want to be work ants. They would rather have the privilege of freedom. But, if all ants had the privileges that you do, there would be no ‘common’ cause to do the work which must be done. For this reason, we have set up conditioning schools for your young ants. And even you, dear queen can never have freedom, because you are bound to be our ruler, and the mother of all new-born ants.”
“Stop” cried the queen. Her big eyes looked out at the court. “You don’t have to worry. I know now that I was only talking about a dream, but it was a very colorful dream and I’ve never had one quite like it before. “Now I order you back to work.”
Some of the ants grumbled, but others knew the old ant had just saved their lives.