‘Owhwhe: I’m Reading

By JACQUELINE LETALIEN, Kim Yerton Memorial Library

Well I just returned from a trip to Africa.  The thing that is great about the trip is that I did not have to leave my home in Hoopa to get there.  I did not have to cram myself into too narrow seats, or get confused by confusing signs.  I just borrowed a book from the library and away I flew to a continent I always wanted to see.

The occasion for this time travel was reading a book called The Elephant Whisperer.  It is not entirely about that and certainly it is a lot about that.  There are adventures with large snakes, rhinos and crocodiles.  There is a good deal of conversation about poachers and the harm they do to the landscape, wildlife and ultimately to the people.

Then there are the elephants.  A small herd, yet extremely difficult to get them to learn that there is at least one human who means them no harm.  This is a long, slow process and assuredly not for the faint of heart.  Consider measuring up to 15,000 pounds, literal, and just being a rather human being trying to bring calm to a small herd that has been abused by humans.  This takes courage, compassion, deep understanding.

There are so many ways to be with animals.  We can break their spirit, making them a tamed imitation of a wild beast.  Or, we can meet them on their terms and find out that we are all really just species trying to get along.  We actually can succeed in talking with each other.  It does not matter what scientists say, we can find a way to communicate with each other.

In the end, “the only good cage is an empty cage.”  The only thing that separates us from other species is an open heart.

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March 12th, 2014

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