This phrase summarizes one of the concepts my father taught me as I was growing up. He didn’t want me to become so preoccupied with the day-to-day grind of tasks that I failed to “look up” and see the beauty of the world and to contemplate the “higher things” in life. It meant having the awareness that life is more than the tangible here and now, but that there is an eternity to think about. The ant is so consumed with survival that he cannot look up and see the sky, the birds and the rest of the world and universe which we humans enjoy and have the responsibility to use wisely.
To be good stewards, we must resist the secular world’s attempt to turn us into self-absorbed beings. We were created to be more than mere advanced animals preoccupied with eating, sleeping and multiplying. (Of course, one could disagree based on the pet-like provisions of the HHS mandate to provide abortions, sterilizations, and abortifacient/contraceptives drugs under the guise of “preventive medicine.”) Instead of actions being dominated by instinct, we humans have free will which is to be steered by a well-formed conscience. To make this a reality, we must make learning about the “higher things” a top priority. Those who believe in God ask for the wisdom to do His will, instead of mere knowledge. Knowing when or IF we should do something is more important than just the “how to.” Even the ant is very good at the “how to.”
Having this discipline will help us with important decisions, including when it’s time to vote. Our concerns should not be just about our needs or of those in the arbitrary voting block to which we have been assigned by analysts (based on stage in life, ethnicity and even gender). It’s about the needs of all humanity, whether privileged or destitute, popular or scorned, born or unborn. We must support policies which understand the original definition of “common good” which emphasized assuring the individual’s opportunity for fulfillment in addition to society’s as a whole. The popular, current and incorrect meaning considers solely whether more people are helped than harmed by a policy; thus, the individual’s value is demeaned. The ants work for the success of the community, too. However, the individual ant is just a piece of the machinery, without the dignity of self.
As we endure the quadrennial barrage of ads laced with half-truths, “spin” and insults to our intelligence, we must not be duped by the empty promises of any candidate who wants us to focus only on our physiological needs, especially those of “our group.” This individual wins at our expense, if he prevents us from “looking up.” Yes, we need leaders with plans to help the economy or to ensure that federal funds are collected fairly from everyone and spent wisely, without injurious preference. But if we sell our souls for the promise of a little “something for us” because we have been led to feel desperate, we will be dismayed. It will become evident that the promises contradict themselves or that all we received were some temporary edicts which the author can rescind at any moment.
The ‘’higher things” will help us discern the credibility of campaign promises. Does the candidate really believe in the inalienable rights named in our Constitution and Amendments? Or does he show a tendency to bypass Congress when they are not in session (relaxing work for welfare requirements), use executive orders beyond their original scope of authority (immigration issues) or please some of the ants with a mandate which violates the First Amendment of all the ants? Does the candidate believe that the government is to protect the individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Or does he believe the right to life emanates from the government, to be discarded at will (along with human babies and the “no longer productive” elderly, also courtesy of the HHS mandate)? Does the candidate claim tolerance and compassion in decisions when actually reflecting permissiveness and enabling disordered behavior (dropping support of the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA])? Is the candidate for “change” meaning equal distribution of opportunity and justice or a “change” which means equal distribution of property without regard for whether it was earned ethically? There are more disqualifying questions we must ask.
This brings us to a final point: the believer’s hope is in God, not government. When we pray “give us this day, our daily bread” we are entreating our Lord, not lobbying Congress or the President. There’s a pernicious movement afoot whose goal is to render the citizenry completely dependent on Big Brother. This is one family relationship which needs severing.
In the voting booth, remember that we do not “live by bread alone.” Remember, too, not to lapse into the world of the busy ant, but to “look up,” or you will end up saying, “look out!”