If you visit the African savannahs, you will encounter acacia-dwelling ants, a species that not only repels tree-eating elephants but also plays a vital role in regulating carbon sequestration within those ecosystems. Similarly dynamic is the portrayal in John A. Davis’s computer-animated movie “The Ant Bully,” which is based on John Nickel’s 1999 book. In this Warner Bros blockbuster, produced by Tom Hanks, the ant named Zoc explains the ants’ philosophy: working for the colony’s benefit allows them to achieve remarkable feats together. This concept bewilders little Lucas, a human character, who observes that most humans pursue personal gain, leaving Zoc puzzled about how humans manage to accomplish anything at all.

In the 21st century, this analogy extends to us all. We find ourselves embodying the spirit of ants, observing changes and collectively pushing towards common objectives. Along this path, we shield ourselves from “bullies,” learning the value of unity and cooperation in achieving our goals. The journey highlights a lesson of synergy and collective effort, a stark contrast to the often individualistic pursuits in human society.

The Dinosaur Conflicts – No War

The 20th century was marred by episodes of evil and power struggles. Yet, as we transition into the 21st century, there’s a shift towards embracing dialogue and seeking alternative solutions. This is not to naively claim a future devoid of war, but rather to acknowledge the emerging radical changes propelled by the synergies of collaboration. The move towards more open and free access, even among the 1.3 billion people of China, exemplifies this shift, driven by increased connectivity and the advent of new generations.

Despite the looming challenges of great complexity, the metaphorical dinosaurs—those outdated modes of conflict and control—are gradually receding. For instance, in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempts to quash dissent by restricting communication platforms like YouTube and Twitter during critical moments, such as the Istanbul mayoral election, underscore the struggle between old power dynamics and the voice of the people. The election, where Mustafa Sarigül, often likened to a Turkish Bill Clinton, was defeated, highlights the persistent clout of Erdogan, indicating that the path forward is fraught with resistance.

Symbolizing the global craving for change is the standoff emblematic of “controlled democracy,” as Mr. Putin would call it, as he flexes Russia’s muscles against NATO, the media, and Ukrainian national hero Vitali Klitschko. However, the specter of war between major powers like the US/NATO and Russia is mitigated by the mutual deterrence of nuclear armament. In this era, egocentric leaders and “bullies” are increasingly countered not with arms but through innovative solutions—conflicts are navigated via dialogue or social sanctioning, marking a significant evolution in our approach to global disputes.

The Power Lies with the People

In this era, marked by an awakening of consciousness, dialogue, and common sense, the younger generation stands out as open, informed, and eager to engage with the global community beyond borders. When faced with restrictions, such as blocked access or censored information, they harness their collective power and technological prowess, catalyzing an “inner force” that demands change. This is evident in countries like China, Turkey, Russia, and beyond, where the youth aspire for global connectivity and equality in information and opportunities, refusing to be sidelined in the fast-paced evolution of our world.

Today’s landscape reveals that individuals, particularly those we categorize as ‘Generation Y’, are driven not merely by the search for employment but by the pursuit of a meaningful life that contributes positively to society. They seek to defend their beliefs and contribute to the global narrative. In nations like Russia and Turkey, there’s a growing expectation that the voices of the people will shape their democracies, reflecting our increasingly interdependent global society.

In the 21st century, allegiances are not necessarily to countries but to cross-border subcultures and shared beliefs. Regardless of the nature of these affiliations, the universal desire is to be an active participant in the global community, to have a “piece of the cake.” This vision supports the notion that demographic systems can pave the way for a future where governance and ownership truly reflect the will of the people. While this shift may take longer in places like Saudi Arabia and North Korea, the principle that countries should be “owned” by their citizens, as seen in the example of the United States with its 300 million Americans, stands as a testament to the ultimate power of the people in shaping their destinies.

The Power of Social Punishment

A new set of ‘rules’ has reshaped our approach to handling bullies and outdated power dynamics. Gone are the days when brute strength, monetary influence, and sheer wickedness ruled the playgrounds and beyond. Today, we wield social punishment as our most formidable weapon, a tool that enforces the ethos of inclusivity and connectivity over exclusion and isolation. This evolution is notably visible in the realm of sports teams, where individual prowess and knowledge are overshadowed by the importance of fitting in, adhering to communal norms, and playing by the rules. The age of the ego and the solo player has been replaced by the era of collective genius and teamwork.

The dynamic of social punishment—excluding those who fail to comply with established norms—underscores the value we now place on synergy and collaborative effort. It’s through this collective endeavor that we achieve significant growth and evolution.

In our hyper-competitive, efficiency-driven world, it is all about the search for alternative solutions. We are moving from a reliance on religious doctrines to the application of common sense. Together, as small humble human beings with our metaphorical red and black antennas waving in solidarity (A shout-out to Dave Matthews Band – #DMB), we learn to protect our ecosystem from the proverbial dinosaurs and bullies. The narrative has changed: wars and aggressive confrontations are no longer the default mechanisms for resolving disputes. Instead, dialogue and common sense lead the way.

Leaders who cling to their egos, such as Erdoğans and Putins of the world, risk isolating their nations and alienating their people. The contemporary zeitgeist has no room for the archaic ways of the big bullies. Though the cowboys and hardliners still exist, they are increasingly seen as relics of a bygone era, outpaced by the collective power of social sanctioning.

By the way, Lucas, the character in “The Ant Bully,” managed to beat the bigger bully while his former bullies became his friends, and the movie ends with him giving a bag of jelly beans to the ant colony,  symbolizing the triumph of cooperation and the transformative power of social punishment.



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