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Monday, November 8, 2010

This Christmas: Save the Elephants

Jenny and Shirley at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

I hate to bring up the subject of Christmas, because I despise thinking about it this early in the year.  Unfortunately, there are too many silly or greedy people in our society who have turned the whole concept into a circus of display and consumerism.  For myself, I make it a firm rule never to put up any Christmas decorations before the 15th of December, and what few I do put up are very modest.  But the stores are already filling up with Christmas dreck, and every one of you reading this is already making certain plans for the season, I know you are.  So I'm going to put a bug in your ear about all that, as we say down South.

Your Head Trucker would like to send this little suggestion out to the world, for what it's worth:  this Christmas, instead of spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on decorations and parties and expensive crap to give to your friends and relations, who already have too much crap of every kind and color to deal with - why not have a smaller, more modest holiday, and instead get your loved ones to join with you in adopting an elephant?  Elephants are smart, gentle, emotional creatures who are too often vulnerable to cruelty and abuse.  Check out these videos, and see what I mean.

"Spaceless in Seattle" is a short film about the elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo in that city:

More about The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee:

And this video is about the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya:

And here's the Performing Animal Welfare Society in Galt, California - which also makes a home for lions and tigers and bears, I kid you not.  And some primates, too.

Scott Riddle, at his Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Greenbrier, Arkansas, explains the global human-elephant conflict:

Now please listen to ol' Russ before you click away.  Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, your Head Trucker asks you to just stop everything for one five minutes, and consider why you go through all your holiday routines in the month of December, by whatever name you call them.  Is it all really to celebrate the warm relationships you have with others in your life?  Or is it possible that you do all that to celebrate - yourself.  Your taste, your wealth, your fabulousness, your one little precious snowflake of a life?

If your religion, or your lack of religion, does not make you a bigger, better, more thoughtful, more compassionate person - then what exactly is the point of all you believe, or disbelieve?

Come to think of it, what is the point of human life, anyway?

What is the point of your life?

Or is there one?

You don't have to tell me, fellas.  But do think it over.  It will do you a world of good.

*          *          *

Of course, there are many other worthy causes in need of your help, and I'll be blogging about some of those in the weeks to come.

But do be aware that you can check the performance of legitimate charities, including the ones above, at such excellent sites as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau.


David said...

Well done Russ, thanks for the idea. Elephants are amazing.

Staircase Witch said...

Or is it possible that you do all that to celebrate - yourself. Your taste, your wealth, your fabulousness, your one little precious snowflake of a life?

I was a little taken aback by this sentence, to be honest. It's hard for me to imagine any of your readers being this sort, really. But maybe I'm wrong. After all, a number of blogs I read are very intensely focused on the superficial, and my challenge seems to be teasing out those rare moments when the human being appears underneath.

On Sunday I went out to our local nursery, which doubles as a kind of upscale craft center, to get mulch, topsoil, and insulation cones so I could put my roses to bed for the winter. I was the only person doing such things that day: everyone else was there for the Holiday Open House, standing in line at the checkout clasping Christmas wreaths and things like miniature gold tinsel trees in pots. I realize that with the economy the way it is stores have to push Christmas earlier and earlier, but I couldn't help feeling how sheeplike these people seemed. It threatens to leave me a bit colder toward Christmas.

I never feel like I need anything at Christmas time, though I make up a box of books and games and beautiful things for my nieces to try to counteract the effects of all the ugly, vulgar, fashionable, overpriced junk they inevitably receive from the other side of their family. I usually make a present to a local cat rescue organization every Christmas, but this year, if X asks me what I would like, instead of telling him not to get me anything at all, I may tell him to send whatever he would otherwise spend on me here: http://www.galapagos.org.

Maybe adopt me a sea iguana. :)

Russ Manley said...

David - glad you like.

SW - as to your first point, I have these gadfly moments come over me now and then. I'd like to think there's something spiritual about them, but hell - maybe it's just indigestion. Whatever.

Though of course I do think it's always important for us to examine our motives as we go down the road of life. All those December holidays, Christmas especially, purport to be about love and sharing and community and unselfishness. But is all that just lip service? There's nothing wrong with jollity per se, of course, and I'm certainly no ascetic - but the unexamined life is not worth living, as someone much wiser than me once said.

Galapagos.org, what a cool site. I want a giant tortoise myself. But would he fit in the bathtub? I'll have to go measure. Grin.

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