My gut censor knows when things aren’t right. Then it tells my brain, which just wants the facts to decode and understand what this is all about. A feeling, a feeling that is waking up my soul fullness. Analysis, hindsight proves invaluable because it builds my belief that I am on to something.
I decided to be the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves, the unspoken, the disenfranchised. I am their advocate as they have been stripped of their power. Each artist has returned power to their subjects by honoring them in their work. Each writer does the same. Then the disenfranchised began to look different than expected. Then they become me. Do I overpaint myself?
Bob Barker visited the Edmonton Valley Zoo in 2009 and he introduced me to Lucy. He offered the Zoo one million dollars to let her retire to the Sanctuary after thirty-six years of holding up signs and demonstrating her “therapeutic” painting skills, a misnomer the Zoo used. The Zoo refused the offer even after Peta declared them the Second Worst Zoo in the World. According to published articles, Zoos housing foreign animals considered them as objects of curiosity. But now the consensus had changed and elephants are equal inhabitants of the earth in God’s eyes but not so for others.
The Zoo appeared oblivious to the depth of new findings, revealing environmental knowledge, social facts, familial customs and bonds, history and memories that were now being published by veterinarians, elephant experts and researchers. I wondered how the Zoo could refuse Mr. Barker’s offer. Mr. Barker left calling Lucy the saddest elephant in the world.
I learned and read everything I could about elephants. When I saw a photograph in the newspaper of a long line of elephants walking in single file, taken by the wife of a deceased reserve owner, his wife explained they came to pay their respects to her late husband. They didn’t eat or drink for two days and on the third day they turned around and left.
Her husband had become the peacemaker between the villagers and the elephants. Out of fear the villagers protected their homes and gardens by attacking the elephants with garden tools and sticks. And out of fear the herd fought back. After several more days of attacks, her exasperated husband threw his hands in the air. I don’t know what to do to make you stop, and put them in the corral. He had trained the elephants to chill, to contain their fears by providing them with a new workable plan.
I often hear Lucy say, “You can’t fight violence with violence.” How true Lucy.
Maybe after my readers have learned of Lucy’s plight, we can all fight for her release to the Sanctuary.