Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The elephant, thirteen feet tall and weighing more than eight short tons, stands in an open, low-fenced enclosure. People pass by him with ooo's and ah's, and there he stands. His trainer comes into view, brandishing a horrid little pike to make sure he behaves. And he does. He would much rather run away, but he is tied there in this pen.

A thick rope strapped to his feet keeps him there. He could easily clear the fence, knock over the people, and find himself outside. But he is tied. He doesn't know that, with his weight and his strength, he could tear that rope that keeps him there. He doesn't even try.

This is because he remembers.

He remembers being a small calf in that same pen. He remembers being away from the other elephants and being scared and being hit with that awful pike. He remembers being unable to get away because of the heavy metal chain around his ankle. He tried and tried and tried and could not break himself free.

This is why he stopped trying. He's bigger now, and stronger, and what holds him is not a chain but a frail piece of rope. But he doesn't know that.

He's learned to be helpless. He's been conditioned to be hopeless.

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