What We Should All Learn From Elephants
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Politics and Activism

What We Should All Learn From Elephants

Loyalty and compassion to the end.

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What We Should All Learn From Elephants

Anyone who knows me knows that I love elephants, but what most people don’t know is that my interest in them started from learning about their uniqueness and inner beauty. Elephants are the largest mammals in the world and can live to be over 70 years old. They travel in matriarchal family groups called herds, which are led by the oldest female. There’s a lot we can learn from these beautiful creatures, but here are just a few things.

An Emory University study in 2006 found that elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, meaning that they are self-aware (The Huffington Post). Because elephants have the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors, it means that they acknowledge themselves as individuals rather than as just part of the herd. This is a beautiful lesson to take from elephants because we should all acknowledge ourselves as individuals rather than thinking of ourselves solely in terms of relationships with others. If elephants can recognize and embrace individuality, we as humans should do the same.

Because of their self-awareness, elephants are also empathetic and know the importance of teamwork. Researchers have found that elephants routinely help each other when in need, and they work together to benefit everyone. Elephants have been known to cheer each other up when one is in distress, and they frequently work together to solve problems or help a fellow elephant in trouble. They also have compassion for other animals because they recognize individuality. I believe that recognizing individuality allows them to understand that every being has a soul and needs to be treated with kindness, care and compassion. This is why elephants have been known to help other animals in trouble as well as those of their own kind. This lesson in selflessness and kindness can be taken into the human world as we increase our empathy and compassion for others and work together to help those in need.

Furthermore, most people know that elephants grieve for their dead. However, I think there is a stronger lesson in this action than some people realize. Because elephants pay respect to and grieve for their dead, it means that this process is natural and not something to be overlooked. In other words, it is a natural response to be upset by the death of a friend or family member, and no one should ever be ashamed of paying respect to a deceased loved one. Elephants frequently visit the burial sites of their deceased herd members, so humans should never feel weird about frequently visiting the headstone of a loved one. I think the lesson here is to understand that grieving is so natural that some of the most intelligent non-human animals do it.

As most people know, elephants are extremely loyal and have extensive memories. Elephants have strong familial bonds that they maintain for life, and they can remember people and other elephants from dozens of years in the past. To me, this means that they cherish the company of others and think that everyone is important enough to be remembered. They support and love each other as family, even if the herd is made up of multiple families. They seem to remember those who have taken care of them and those who needed to be taken care of. The lesson here is that everyone needs someone and that there are people who will always remember you and what you did to make a difference for them.

Lastly, in my research, I found that there is evidence of homosexuality among some elephants, especially young males. What stands out even more to me is that the herds to which these elephants belong seem to be very accepting of homosexuality. The lesson our society can learn from this is that homosexuality is in fact a natural occurrence rather than a choice, and if a group of intelligent creatures are accepting of it, why shouldn’t ours be? Elephants seem to understand that we should let everyone be who they are without ridicule or judgment, and that is the most beautiful lesson I think they can teach us.

I absolutely love elephants, and I think they’re super cute, but what people don’t understand about my love for elephants is what they represent. They represent kindness, loyalty and compassion. They represent family, strength and teamwork. They represent individuality, understanding and harmony. There are so many lessons we can learn from elephants, but I think the most important ones are those about individuality, compassion and acceptance of others. If everyone took the time to be more like elephants, I think we would live in a much happier, friendlier, better place.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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