By: Jenni Taylor
While visiting Thailand, a friend and I signed up for a day tour that seemed to offer it all: history museums, waterfalls, elephants, rafting, and tigers. Can’t get better than that, right?
The museums were informative, the waterfalls were beautiful, and the elephants- well, the elephants were chained, dirty, and beaten. A chain smoking “tour guide” pushed the tourists from the bus into a line to get them on the elephants, take a few circles around while they were directed with hooks, and then shuffle the group off to lunch on time.
While standing to the side feeling guilty and unsure of what to do while the rest of the tourists took their pleasure ride, an elephant came right up to the fence and reached out her trunk to me. It was the same feeling you get when a toddler reaches out her little arms to you and you are sure all the love in the world is being directed at you in that moment.
When I asked what her name was, another chain smoking worker said they called her “Lady Boy”, and laughed. Lady Boy’s baby and another older “grandpa” elephant soon joined us.
I decided to feed them bananas.
I’m no elephant expert, but if eyes are windows to the soul, these elephants have spirit. They have life. They are capable of happiness, friendship, and love.
And when grandpa elephant was taken away to be ridden by tourists and smacked with a hook, my new friend turned sadly away and stood by herself.
Her eyes told me they were capable of pain and suffering, too.
Maybe we couldn’t have done much more than we did, refuse to ride and show as much love and care as we could in the few minutes we had. But I can’t get them out of my mind. So, I pray,
May the humans who have lost their kindness rediscover it.
May creatures in pain be given advocates of love.
May we learn to increase our empathy and our loving action,
and may we use the loudness of our voices
to speak out against wrongdoing towards all things, great and small.
May we see the world through the eyes of God and care for it in the same way.