Unchain the Elephant
from Unchain the Elephant
by Erik Wahl
Several years ago, I had the privilege to go on safari outside Nairobi, Kenya. As I ventured into the vast, unregulated openness of the Masai Mara, I experienced life from a completely new perspective. I witnessed the grace of a pack of gazelles, the migration of the wildebeest, and the clever stealth of the cheetah. But the most memorable encounter by far was when I crested a hill and unexpectedly came face-to-face with the overwhelming size and unparalleled raw power of an untamed elephant.
This was not a petting zoo elephant quietly behaving in a crowded room. This enormous elephant was wild and completely unrestrained to explore, to discover, and to enjoy the beauty of its natural habitat. How did this massive, powerful, free creature succumb to a life tethered to a chain in a circus tent?
When an elephant is born into captivity, the owner ties the animal to a tree or post with a thick chain to prevent the 250-pound infant from escaping. During the first few weeks of his life, the small elephant tests the chain that binds him, again and again, in an attempt to free himself and wander as his nature urges him to do. His efforts, however, are no match for steel links. Over the course of a few weeks, he eventually learns that his resources are no match for the hardiness of the chain. He gives up any further attempts to free himself, and thus relegates himself to a life within a small circle.
As an adult elephant conditioned by a past experience, he can now be tethered to a small tree with the thinnest of ropes or, in some cases, no rope at all. He makes no attempts to wander because he carries with him, for life, the belief that he does not possess the power to break the ties that bind him. The adult elephant could easily snap the rope or uproot the tree to which it is attached, but he makes no such effort, because early in life, he was taught that true freedom was not available to him. For the remainder of his life, he is tame and nothing like the captivating, powerful creature he was born to be.
Can you sympathize with this elephant? Do you feel your life has been shackled by what you were conditioned to believe when you were young? Maybe the conditioning was even more recent than that.
The time has come to unchain the elephant.