When an elephant is sick, two others will stand, one on each side, and hold the sick one up until that elephant is well. Elephants have a transcendent sense of community.
A few years ago, civil order among herds in Africa came down with a social sickness never before observed in elephants. The media carried several stories on teenage elephant gangs. Their atrocious behavior was similar to human gangs: pillaging, violent attacks, destruction of environment, etc. They were raping and killing other animals. Humans became targets as well.
The intelligence they displayed rivaled any strategy of human criminal behavior. For example, they went on rampages viciously attacking people. Their modus operandi resembled battle plans of successful warfare. They would shrewdly blockade escape routes in villages while other gang members pinned villagers down to rip them apart, limb by limb.
Animal behavior experts were perplexed, to say the least. It didn’t take too long, though, for them to come up with a solution: send in the old generals – wise, mature male elephants.
It worked. The old grandfathers rounded up these out-of-control young thugs and put them through a course of proper elephant behavior. Soon, the raging rogues were restored back to the decent law-abiding citizens they were expected to be. Order returned. Peace stood strong once again among the herds.
Hmm… I wonder if there is anything we humans could learn from the social structure of elephants?
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal several years ago. A survey was taken of a few hundred male graduates of Ivy League schools. The question was asked, “What is the one thing that you wanted that your father never gave to you?”
The nearly unanimous response was summed up in one word: time.
Time is something that elephants think nothing of spending in spades. Hold up a sick one until it is well. Provide your youth with careful guidance. Whatever it takes.