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Wed Apr 1, 2015, 11:51 AM

Elephants

We all know the parable of the elephant and the blind men. Like all good fables, it uses an entertaining, easily understood story as an educational device to shed light upon human nature. This one originated in ancient India, and became a staple of numerous eastern religious belief systems. The wisdom and insight it provides has allowed variations of the fable to spread across time and distance.

Western culture tends to be most familiar with the Jain version: the blind man who touches the elephant’s tail describes the animal as being like a rope; the leg, a tree; the side, a wall; the trunk, a tree limb. Each is correct, yet none appreciates the others’ description. The parable provides a powerful metaphor for the human condition.

In 1872, a political cartoon used an elephant to symbolize the republican party. The image stuck, which is a shame, since elephants are intelligent, wonderful beings. Indeed, everyone likes elephants, and respects their right to live -- everyone, that is, but those who seek to exploit elephants.

Now, who do we know that fits that description? Who doesn’t respect an elephant’s right to live an elephant’s natural life? Who would seek to exploit elephants as a source of cheap labor; as a vehicle in warfare; and to be slaughtered for their tusks? Who might we describe, using the biblical metaphors of “deaf, dumb, and blind” to definite their attitude towards the elephant’s natural rights? By gosh, would that not be our beast fiends, the republican party?

All that may sound like an amazing coincident. Yet, because I do not believe in “coincidence,” it is not why I’m writing this. Rather, I want to make a point -- minor as it may be -- about a dynamic in the DU:GD descriptions of the republican elephant. It’s something that many, maybe most of us, do from time to time. I’m certainly as guilty of it as anyone else. It’s easy to focus on its tusks, and identify them with the republican military aggression in the Middle East; or its ears, and identify the government eavesdropping on citizens; or its feet, as crushing the middle class. And all these are true.

The potential problem, however, is one person/group sees only their issue as “big,” and of greater significance than some or all of other people’s issues. Who gains, for example, if there is a divisive debate on what is “more important” between, say, women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality? Between the environment and anti-war movements? Police violence and public education? Racism and economic justice?

By no coincidence, each of those four examples includes distinct issues, that are at the same time closely related. So much so, that it is an error to think that we can fully resolve one, without fully addressing the other. Why? Because that is the nature of the republican elephant -- which is not a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood creature at all ….but is instead an unconscious, destructive machine.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that every time one posts something about a cause they are advocating, they need to include a laundry list, in alphabetical order, of all other related issues. But it does mean that it is an error to insist that your cause is The Cause, of far more significance than those of others. If, for example, we take the issue of violence, it is a mistake to believe that the violence perpetrated against one group is more important than the violence committed against any or all other groups. Indeed, doing so misses the higher point that all of that violence is actually connected, like the features on the elephant.

It is in our ability to make the connections between the many issues that the Democratic Party should be taking a firm stance on, that helps to unite us. It is our understanding of these connections that enlightens us to the true nature of the beast. And more capable of protecting us from it.

Peace,
H2O Man

12 replies, 725 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Elephants (Original post)
H2O Man Apr 2015 OP
NYC_SKP Apr 2015 #1
H2O Man Apr 2015 #7
longship Apr 2015 #2
H2O Man Apr 2015 #8
Scuba Apr 2015 #3
H2O Man Apr 2015 #9
Aerows Apr 2015 #4
H2O Man Apr 2015 #10
herding cats Apr 2015 #5
H2O Man Apr 2015 #11
F4lconF16 Apr 2015 #6
Dont call me Shirley Apr 2015 #12

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 12:02 PM

1. Recommended.

 

Indeed, we need to stick together.

Thank you for this post and gentle reminder.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 01:30 PM

7. Thank you!

I fun fun writing this one. Edited my sick jokes, of course.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 12:04 PM

2. Well put! Highly recommended and kicked. nt

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Response to longship (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 01:31 PM

8. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 12:37 PM

3. Kicked and recommended for undeniable wisdom.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 04:33 PM

9. Thank you.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 12:41 PM

4. I learned something odd today

 

Do you know that Elephants and Sea Cows are the closest relative of the Hyrax?

The Hyrax looks like a rodent, nothing like an Elephant or a Sea Cow. I thought someone pranked Wikipedia, but come to find out, they all have abdominal testes. Their balls are in their stomachs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyrax

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Response to Aerows (Reply #4)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 04:34 PM

10. Interesting.

Life on earth takes interesting forms.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 01:00 PM

5. Very true.

Thank you for using such a lovely way to remind us of this.

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Response to herding cats (Reply #5)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 05:50 PM

11. Thanks!

One of the unhealthy dynamics of our culture is its ability to make people feel they are alone. If you think that you are the only one in, say, a group of 100 that has a certain concern, you are far less likely to speak up, than you would be if you thought 25 others shared it. Or 50. Or 75.

I think that this was one of the strengths of the Occupy Movement. It might have started out "them darned leftists," but it ended up drawing a much wider audience. More, it connected with a portion of the middle class, "polite" society. They may not have left their living rooms to join in, but they were conscious of Occupy's message. Hence, the establishment's efforts to disrupt and discredit American citizens exercising their Amendment 1 rights.

The Democratic Party needs to connect with more people, at the local, state, and national levels. That requires politicians who can communicate with the public. And that the public trusts as being authentic.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 01:03 PM

6. Kick and strongly recommend.

The only way we can bring down the insanity of our current state is by coming together as one. These issues are all interconnected, and we cannot forget that. If we are to bring about a revolution against the capitalist system that oppresses us all, we must realize that racism is tied the economy, that poverty is tied to the environment, that the rescinding of women's rights are tied to the failings of our education system, etc. There are innumerable connections between various forms of oppression, all inextricably woven together. We are going to have to fight on all fronts for a hope at a better future.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Apr 1, 2015, 06:05 PM

12. Oppression of others would be the large umbrella

It becomes easy to see that the vast majority of human injustice stems from oppression of others. If the frame becomes oppression of others, that would unite the vast majority.

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