Mad Elephants

My fiance recently told me about an article she read that said that elephants are going mad.  They are attacking people and villages.  We aren’t talking about a few every now and then.  Hundreds of people have been killed.  It isn’t just in Africa, but in India as well.

What’s even more strange is that there are reports of elephants raping and killing rhinos!  In one park they had over 60 rhinos killed by elephants.

What is causing this?  Well elephants are intelligent, long-lived animals, with very good memories.  They have suffered greatly at the hands of poachers.  Many young elephants have seen their parents killed.  But it isn’t just this sort of trauma, but the loss of habitat.  Their world is shrinking in on them.

Basically their whole society has been turned upside down.  Social hierarchies have been destroyed as have traditional territories.  Their way of life has changed faster than they can adjust to.

Sound familiar?  Now I am not saying that we are elephants, but this does sound like our world.  Our society has changed dramatically over the past hundred years or so.  Things have always changed, this is an ever-changing world, but in the beginning of the 20th century, most people still lived in the country.  Now we all live in cities.  We used to live off the earth, working the ground and raising animals and hunting.  Now we live in a world completely different.  This causes us more stress than I think we really understand.  That stress can lead to insane acts of violence and depravity, just like it is with the elephants.

This is something I understand personally.  Now I never lived in the country or on a farm.  I grew up in the suburbs.  I worked downtown in an office.  I hated it.  Being cooped up all day under florescent lights, being told what to do by managers and salespeople.  I had trouble dealing with that sort of stress.  Now when I went to prison it was different.  I had trouble at first adjusting, but as time went by I found I could handle the stress of prison better than I did the corporate world.  You have the constant stress from the guards and being confined, that was hard, but you also had the stress of always watching out for violence.  It was more of a survival fight or flight type of stress.  Something our minds are conditioned to understand.  That sort of threat is real, whereas the stress of earning money to pay the bills is more abstract.

Now I am not saying I was happier locked up, just that the daily stress was easier for me, and for most people to handle, which leads me to think that we haven’t fully adjusted to the stresses of modern life.  Maybe this only affects the type of people who go to prison, which is why they get locked up in the first place, but with America’s huge prison population growing year after year, maybe it is more widespread than that.

Don’t take me wrong, I don’t want us to all abandon the cities and go live in the mountains.  We have to learn to cope with life.  But with all the talk about school shootings and violence maybe we can learn a lesson from the elephants.

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