Reporter's Note: Our President is trying to raise a puppy, tend to two children, and restore the economy. No wonder he is asking Americans to pitch in with some ideas on how to get all that done. So I’m writing a letter a day to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
I was fixing a landscape light in our yard, and as I removed the top a swarm of little black ants came pouring out. My younger daughter squealed and ran, that scared the dog which took off with her, and I was left thinking about a story.
Some years back I enjoyed a conversation with the esteemed scientist, E.O. Wilson. He made his chops studying ants. As a kid he suffered an eye injury and he can’t see all that well, so he focused on a tiny world that he could keep in focus. Anyway, he developed extraordinary theories about how species may be genetically programmed so that some individuals will sacrifice themselves for the good of the collective community. (Obviously he’s never been to cheerleader tryouts, but still..) I don’t know how much I believe him, but I know if you step barefoot into a fire ant bed down south you’ll learn something about the power of teamwork pretty fast.
He gave me one of his signed books, and drew some little ants inside the cover. Ever since I’ve wondered why some individuals are more inclined to think of their society, while others are more inclined to think about themselves. (Not insignificant matters to ponder, I suspect, with all this turmoil over Wall Street, and CEO bonuses.)
I can’t say it’s a matter of intelligence. I’ve known some awfully smart people who are plenty selfish. It’s not education, religion, wealth, or where you are from either. I’ve known plenty of degree-holding-Bible-thumping-rich-folks-from-the-right-side-of-the-tracks who also more self-serving than a three-year-old with an ice cream cone.
So why is it that some people think more of the team and less of themselves? Frankly I don’t have a clue. What I do know is this: If you can surround yourself with folks who are more interested in doing the work than taking the credit; and more interested in the team’s success than their own, you’ll really have something.
Ha! Listen to me rattling: You’ve got the Taliban marching in Afghanistan, torture investigations at home, who knows what Biden is up to and here I am talking about ants!
I’ll let you get back to your work. Hope all is well, and as always, call if you get a moment.
Find more of the Foreman Letters here.
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