Arasmus

Forget The Bananas

Posted in Philosophy, Thailand, Travel by Arasmus on March 24, 2007

You know how it goes when people write about elephants. Something like – I looked into the eyes of this majestic animal and I sensed an old wisdom and a deep strength. Well I didn’t. I couldn’t make eye contact with them – the closest I came was when they looked intently at the banana in my outstretched arm. As I looked at these huge prehistoric-looking animals, chained and driven by a creature no bigger than its leg, I thought of a line from Macbeth:

Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood;
And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature
For ruin’s wasteful entrance.

This whole situation felt like a breach in nature. There were some 14 or 15 elephants and the mahouts could steer them this way and that with a single word. A crack of the whip and they would increase their speed carrying us across stream, river, mountain and forest. It was majestic and embarrassing at the same time.

As I swayed this way and that in the chair on top of its back I looked down at its huge head, perhaps some three or four feet in width. To my left was a deep gorge. All it takes is for this animal to have a single thought that it might do otherwise that it is being told and suddenly we humans don’t matter any more – nobody can stop this animal if it decides to do what it wants. All that would be left for humans to do is figure out where in the jungle they are headed and how many riders are left alive.

But it doesn’t have that thought, though I can never say it didn’t cross its mind. How did it come to this? Somewhere in its head this mighty animal conceded defeat. And the reason was most likely food not whips. Whips and chains would be as affective as cobwebs if it really came down to that. This animal was beaten by its desire, defeated by itself. It made me feel sad.

And what about us? Are we so different? We go to the barricades and the courts to defend ourselves against whips and chains but our desires run wild. You can enslave a human just like an elephant – tell him about status, pride, nation, honor, wealth, possessions, duty, weapons of mass destruction, an invisible being or beautiful women, hell tell him 40% off all this week and he will do anything you want. He will turn away from his own will and haul people up and down mountains for a piece of paper. He will spend every minute of his life toiling to buy stuff he never wanted. He will even lay down his own life. And yet like the elephant, if we would only wake up. If one just allowed the thought of freedom to reside and take root in one’s head then nothing could stop the heresy. Forget the bananas.

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