Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I came across an Australian idiom for a destructive force called “white-anting.” The metaphor stands for the kind of comprehensive damage an unrestrained colony of termites can do to wood structures–and virtually unnoticed until it may be too late to save the structure.
The insidious nature of the damage is due to the fact that it is usually an “inside job,” that is, you can’t always tell from the outside what is going on in the depths of a beam or a sub-floor burrowed through by these tiny little critters that resemble ants except for their pale color. Indeed, the exterior may yet seem solid even as the hungry little mites munch and chomp their way through your house.
But there comes a time, if not dealt with, when termites, as tiny as they are, utterly destroy even the sturdiest of supports.
WHITE-ANTING IN RELATIONSHIPS
The context of learning about white-anting was in terms of dysfunctional relationships where one partner feels entitled for whatever reason to criticize, mock, undermine, and hold the other in contempt. In between the good times (the seeming and perhaps even “solid” parts of the relationship).
To those “on the outside,” like those looking at the as-yet-undamaged siding on a termite-infested house, the insidious nature of this kind of relationship damage is also not apparent. The result, however, again similar to the corrosive damage hungry termites do, results in a kind of destruction to the sub-structure of the relationship.
WHITE-ANTING IN NATIONS
As for white-anting in whole nations? Little needs to be clarified, here, I think. Military historians are familiar with the term “fifth column,” where the would-be conquerors who can’t quite penetrate their hoped-for conquest from without, enter from within, as another column (the “fifth”) of warriors. A famous example of this is the Trojan Horse episode from the history of Troy.
Many people in the United States of America believe we have been seeing this kind of inside penetration of enemy ideologies, if not forces, burrow through our language, borders, and culture particularly in the last several years. But not from the outside, as it were, rather, from within where it can remain as unseen as possible for as long as possible.
Much of the population seems duped by seemingly solid appearances here, too, as well, via lovely sounding words, beautiful people, rhetoric that SEEMS to underscore all we hold dear…until you inspect, in this case the sub-text, to find that our Constitutional rights have been slowly eaten away, a nip here, a nibble, there…what’s left hardly enough to sustain the foundation of the nation for much longer…
But whatever the case in relationships and/or in nations, there is a biblical antidote. If applied soon enough, that is. It is a promise from God to His people who, having gone astray, are now seeking Him. The promise goes like this:
The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. 25“Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. 26″You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame.… (24-26, NASB).
God alone knows when or if it is “too late” for either people or nations, when the sub-structures have been exposed to reveal the extent of the damage and it proves too much to save the existing “edifice”. Only God knows if it is too late.
I don’t know about nations, I can only hope and pray wiser heads and hearts prevail in this United States, but I can attest to the promise of God for people.
Though the locusts (another tiny, but destruction insect) may have eaten, God restores.
And His promises are for all who seek Him.
graphic attribution: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/termites.html#details5280682