Story type: Essay
This is an editorial which we shall merely suggest, and which each reader will write out for himself.
In the Zoological Garden of New York a poor elephant has stood in chains for years. The animal was thought to be vicious, and was kept fastened tightly to one spot, that it might have no leeway to do damage.
A short time ago its keeper became convinced that the elephant would do no harm and might safely be unchained. The chains were taken off, and the keeper thought with satisfaction that the poor beast would now enjoy freedom and be made happy by the possibility of moving freely about its large inclosure.
The elephant did not move. The chains were gone, it was no longer tied, but it stood, and it still stands, in just the same spot.
The habit of slavery, of monotony, had become too strong. The elephant, though free, stands still, sadly swaying its heavy head, ignorant of the freedom that has come to it.
Men and women and children who see the elephant, and other men who write paragraphs for the newspapers, dilate on the poor animal’s “stupidity.”
“The elephant has been called the most intelligent of animals,” says one writer, “but this elephant, that doesn’t know when the chains are off, seems to prove that the elephant can be a good deal of a fool.”
How easy it is for us human beings to see the faults in others, our fellows, and the animals below us.
But which one of us can truly say that he is not in exactly the same position as that poor elephant, fixed to one spot by the chains of long ago?
Are we not still standing as a race just as we stood years and centuries ago, ignorant of the freedom that has come to us?
Thousands of splendid men have worked, lived and died to free us from superstition, from credulity, from ignorance, yet still we stand in the same place, and fail to appreciate the freedom that is ours. —-
Millions of us, tied down by foolish superstition, are like that elephant–the chains are off, but we stand still.
The road to peace, happiness and universal progress has been shown us in the teachings of great leaders, but we still stand in the same old place, fighting, hating, cheating, suspecting, harming one another.
Here and there there is a little progress; gradually we begin to appreciate and enjoy the freedom that has been given to us with the striking away of old mental chains. The process is slow.
Look into your own mind. Do you take advantage of all the possibilities that are before you? Do you use your brain to control your existence, acts and habits for your own benefit and the benefit of others?
If not, you ought to sympathize with this poor elephant, and realize that as your brain exceeds his in bulk proportionately, so do you exceed him in the folly that misses opportunity.
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