What we know about Elephants

Community Respect Project

Elephants are one of the largest mammals we have on earth. That we have the term “Elephant in the Room Discussions” is not a surprise.

Before jumping into the challenges that these discussions offer, it is worthwhile to think through who elephants are by nature. What is our/your understanding
of an elephant?

It does get interesting to apply the term “Elephant in the Room Discussion” to the context of difficult discussions that cross our path. In various parts of those discussions certainly the elephant definitely belongs. Like all illustrations there are some parts where the analogy breaks down.

Here are some thoughts on what we know about elephants. The list is is not complete, so please add to the list making it more complete.

Elephants are:

  • HUGE! You know it when you are in their presence.  They are BIGGER than life.
  • Herd Animals. They normally travel in groups.  See an elephant by itself, they can easily be in an attack mode.
  • Eating an Elephant. Do it one bite at a time.
  • Memory. We are told that they do NOT forget.
  • Context. Westerners usually only see real elephants only in a zoo or a circus. Few of us see roaming elephants, thank goodness.
  • Pain. It hurts REAL BAD if an elephant were to step on your foot.
  • Trainable. Elephants can be domesticated to some degree. They can have a role beyond being wild animals.
  • Great Strength. When harnessed, they have immense strength, which can then be used positively.
  • Political. Symbolically they are Republicans, as Donkeys are Democrats.
  • Eat a Lot. Feeding an elephant requires lots of food and compacity to for foliage.
  • Variety. African elephants are significantly different in size from India based elephants.
  • Tusks/Ivory. Unfortunately the ivory tusks have great value-thus many elephants are poached for their valuable ivory tusks.
  • Loud. When they communicate, you HEAR them!

Ancient Elephant Parable of Six Blind Men

Blind Men Elephant
The parable says that six blind men who never saw an elephant, were allowed to touch to an elephant, and then were asked to describe what they touched.  
Blind Man ONE: touched the elephant’s trunk and described the elephant as a “thick snake”.
Blind Man TWO: touched the elephant’s ear and described the elephant as “kind of a fan”.
Blind Man THREE: touched the elephant’s leg and described the elephant as “pillars like a tree trunk”.
Blind Man FOUR: touched the elephant’s side and described the elephant as a “wall”.
Blind Man FIVE: touched the elephant’s tail and described the elephant as a “rope”.
Blind Man SIX: touched the elephant’s tusk and described the elephant as “hard & smooth like spear”.
Wendell Amstutz, MA

Wendell Amstutz, MA

CEO | Author / Speaker | amstutz@ncommunityrc.org | 507-254-1265

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