Tuesday Travel: Elephant Nature Park

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Sometimes I forget that traveling is something people actually do. It seems so easy to get trapped in daily, weekly, monthly, yearly responsibilities that the idea of traveling somewhere for any reason other than responsibility seems absurd. But I’ve got a newly awakened travel itch going on right now. Maybe it’s springtime in the air, who knows.

For instance, there is a beautiful place I would love to visit someday. It is in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai and it is called Elephant Nature Park. If any of you have seen, “How I Became An Elephant,” then you know about the Park and its impressive founder, Lek.

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The other day, as I was reading about the Park’s many volunteer opportunities, I noticed how many aspects of Connection are being fostered there. The Park not only provides a sanctuary for injured and disabled elephants (and now dogs as well) but they also prioritize helping the very people who caused the elephants’ traumas in the first place. The owners and trainers–called mahouts–“break” baby elephants in a very violent way in order to be able to use the elephants for raising money for the rest of their lives through practices like street performing, begging, and logging. None of these things are very happy or healthy for the elephants of course.

However, the founders of the Park are very unique in that while they want to save these elephants, they also recognize the centuries-long ties that the mahouts and the grander culture have formed with the elephants. In order to honor these ties and the financial need of the mahouts while also bringing reformation to elephant exploitation, the Park is working with the people of Thailand to educate and train mahouts about alternative, humane, conservation-driven ways of earning a living and retaining their elephants. It isn’t perfect, but it is a beautiful example of EcoConnection, InterConnection, and Animal Connection at work. Throw in the volunteers from all over the world who are transformed by the opportunity to give back and gain perspective through their time at the Park and we can add InnerConnection as well.

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This all made me wonder: How else can Connection in all its facets be explored through travel? I intend to find out, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, do you know how much 12000 Thai Bhat is in U.S. dollars? $376.02. That is how much it costs to volunteer at the Park for one week. Makes travel for connection’s sake not seem so absurd, huh?

With love,

~~~S Wave~~~

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Revilers Will Revile…and then nothing changes

Oh my gosh, I’m starting a post with a dictionary entry. What’s become of me??

REVILE verb (used with object), reviled, reviling.

1. to assail with contemptuous or opprobrious language; address or speak of abusively.

In this post you’ll read the word “revile” a lot. I chose it over “hate” because “hate” has lost its punch if you ask me. And the meaning I am looking for is to regard someone with boiling contempt, to despise them, or to wish them ill-will, so “revile” seemed a better fit. I also liked, “despise.”

Okay, read on…..

Did you hear about the cow who ran for her life? Literally? Well, she lost it in the end anyway. Here is the whole story.

Just like many other people (there were 1,488 comments on MFAs FB post of this story last I checked), I was disappointed about how the situation was handled. I think there must be better ways to deal with a loose cow than to shoot it dead, right? I also feel sad for the cow since its story represents a fight for freedom, the saga of an underdog and because it suffered. I am tempted to villainize the police officer who shot the cow, (especially because the picture gets me emotionally revved up) and to appoint him as a “bad person” in my mind.

I said I am tempted.

I’m writing this post to suggest that despite that strong urge, it is absolutely necessary to check my revile-o-meter level and get a grip. Because when revilers revile, nothing changes. 

Let me give you an example. Here are some comments that were made on the Facebook post of the story:

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That is some of the more moderate reviling that was there. These don’t represent all of the comments of course. Most of the commenters were simply sad and frustrated and incredulous as to why the cow wasn’t simply tranquilized or corralled.

It is these types of comments though that I am writing about today. What does that kind of thinking and expressing accomplish? And I don’t mean for the cow…I mean for our evolution as a species for goodness sakes!! I agree that we are an incredibly violent species. I agree that we are complicit in impossibly egregious actions against animals through our indifference and disinterest. But I also believe that each and every one of us is capable of doing horrible things depending on what our path has been. But for the grace of God, and so on.

We are submerged in a culture that inundates us with messages of violence, consumerism, competition, fear, and selfishness. We are constantly hypnotized into believing that these things are the truth and other ideas of reality are considered ridiculous and feeble. There are simply people out there who do not know that this does not have to be the way it is. Can revilers not see that they are just adding to the suffocating culture of separateness that is the problem? A slaughterhouse worker says, “F*** you, cow,” and you say, “F*** you, slaughterhouse worker.” What’s the difference?? You, the cow, and the slaughterhouse worker are ALL the same. Let’s get up and above all this status quo reviling! Let’s recognize the interconnective repercussions that our thoughts and intentions have! We are not going to change a thing by spreading more of the same.

*sigh* I wrote about this in the past regarding the Taiji dolphin hunt. I think I write about it because I have a hard time believing in the good of people. I have a hard time trusting people. I have a hard time not giving into the temptation to revile. So I’m writing to myself also. Because I know that when I agree to not send that hateful energy to a person I have never and will never meet, whose life and struggle I cannot know, I feel better. I feel more powerful, not less. I am more of Self and less of ego. That is when change can happen. And we need some serious change don’t we?

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Before I go, I want to recognize that I haven’t posted the next installment of The Untethered Soul review this week. I was planning on it tonight, but as you can see I got on a soapbox and couldn’t get down. 😉 Don’t worry though…it’s coming soon!

Love from a recovering reviler,

~~~S Wave~~~