What Elephants Want to Forget

Spiritual Activism–Part Two

elephantThis week the Los Angeles City Council voted to prepare an ordinance to outlaw the use of a bullhook on elephants. Are there a lot of pet elephants in LA? The City Council Chambers were crowded the night of vote with PETA members and animal activists. Lily Tomlin put her celebrity status into action on behalf of our pachyderm friends.

This is a move against circus practices of training elephants to perform across the country, including Ringling Bros. A video was played for the Council of elephants screaming and being hogtied in training sessions. After a few minutes, the video was cut short and the Council unanimously voted for the ban.

Huh, you mean those elephants don’t love the circus life? Don’t like riding train cars, living in cages, marching around in circles, and standing on top of each other? Seriously, I’d never considered the elephants’ feelings before that moment. What’s a circus without the elephants, right?

Then, I thought–what’s a plantation without the slaves? What’s a Gladiator Contest without a fight to the death and maybe a few Christians and lions thrown in for fun?

Elephants may not look much like people, but they are highly intelligent mammals, just like us. They live in family groups. They develop complex relationships, even with other species. And, yes, they can get damn mad and can go on a rampage, just like humans.

Would I find it entertaining to see a bunch of people herded into a tent with whips and forced into silly positions? No, definitely not. Would I care if they had been ripped away from their family and homes? Absolutely.

Suddenly the elephants in the circus seem more travesty than fun tradition. The Greatest Show on Earth? Not so much.

As we become more spiritually aware, cruelty once accepted as the “norm” becomes a call to action–even for the elephants. If  you don’t think elephants have feelings, watch this video.

Read article in the Los Angeles Times.

On the same page is an article about mentally ill inmates being subdued with canisters of pepper spray. After watching videos of naked, incoherent prisoners blasted with pepper spray, the state is re-evaluating their discipline methods. Crazy people don’t feel much, right? Dr. John Lindgren, California’s senior prison psychiatrist, was quoted as saying, “he believed psychotic prisoners would have no memory of the incidents and that they ‘have a higher than average threshold for pain or noxious stimuli.'”

Dr. Lindgren would probably make a good elephant trainer.

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