Monday, April 30, 2007


The psychologist takes out their notepad. Writing furiously, they take down the following information: Adolescent male; victim of trauma at a young age; Behavioral problems; Loner; Does not function well with peers. Finally the psychologist takes down the reason for the visit: Violent; Attacked numerous individuals; killed many innocent victims.

While many people might be thinking Columbine or Virginia Tech the actual study here involves adolescent male elephants. Elephants have similar life spans to humans. Their adolescent period ends at a similar time to humans (around age 17). What is interesting is that scientists are beginning to believe that elephants can also suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Since the early 1990's some young male elephants in South Africa have been exhibiting many bizarre behaviors. They have been raping and killing rhinos, they have been attacking people and other elephants. What scientists are beginning to believe is that this is caused by trauma in elephant communities.

Elephants, like humans, are profoundly social creatures. When a close family member dies, elephants have elaborate mourning and burial rituals. The pressure on elephant families has caused many young elephants to be either orphans or not properly socialized. The theory of PTSD in elephants is further reinforced by techniques that have helped stem these problem behaviors. One of the most effective techniques is the introduction of older male elephants into the social structure. These older more mature males curb the violence of the disaffected adolescents.

While humans are unique in many of their characteristics, there is more and more research that shows that many animals share many of the same characteristics as humans. Elephants know hurt and loss. Surprisingly, elephants also can be healed. There are several non-profit groups in Africa that specialize in healing traumatized elephants. They have a remarkable success rate in healing these animals and reintroducing them into herds.

The paradox is that it was human behavior that created this problem. Indiscriminate killing of adult elephants for their ivory is believed to be one of the primary causes of PTSD in adolescent elephants.

So, are we really that different from the animals?


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Rules of Being Human

You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called Life. Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those you think you need.

There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. You can learn as much from failure as you can from success. Maybe more.

A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and ultimately your behavior) then you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as you live there will be something more to learn.

“There” is no better than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply discover another “there” that will again look better than your “here.” Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have.

Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.

What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you create with those tools and resources is up to you. Remember that through desire, goal setting and unflagging effort you can have anything you want. Persistence is the key to success.

The answers lie inside of you. The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within your grasp. All you need to do is ask, look, listen and trust yourself.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Holiday! (Pick one)

Cultural historians find, in the celebration of Easter, a convergence of the three traditions - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian.

According to St. Bede, an English historian of the early 8th century, Easter owes its origin to the old Teutonic mythology. It was derived from the name Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month of April was dedicated. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when the day and night gets an equal share of the day.

The English name "Easter" is much newer. When the early English Christians wanted others to accept Christianity, they decided to use the name Easter for this holiday so that it would match the name of the old spring celebration. This made it more comfortable for other people to accept Christianity.

The Easter festival, as celebrated today, is related with the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish Passover. This is being celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar year. The JewishPassover under Moses commemorates Israel's deliverance from about 300 years of bondage in Egypt.

The Feast of Easter was well established by the second century. But there had been dispute over the exact date of the Easter observance between the Eastern and Western Churches. The East wanted to have it on a weekday because early Christians observed Passover every year on the 14th of Nisan, the month based on the lunar calendar. But, the West wanted that Easter should always be a Sunday regardless of the date.

To solve this problem the emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325. The question of the date of Easter was one of its main concerns. The council decided that Easter should fall on Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. But fixing up the date of the Equinox was still a problem. The Alexandrians, noted for their rich knowledge in astronomical calculations were given the task. And March 21 was made out to be the perfect date for spring equinox.

The dating of Easter today follows the same. Accordingly, churches in the West observe it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the Spring equinox on March 21., it became a movable feast between March 21 and April 25.Still some churches in the East observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.

Pagans, however still celebrate Eostre on the somewhat movable date of the vernal equinox.
In the Islamic world vernal equinox marks the celebration of the New Year.

Eggs and Easter have almost become synonymous. But . . .
"What is so Special in an Egg?"

It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so egg-special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: Omne vivum ex ovo. This means "all life comes from an egg".

Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phonecia to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America the west coast of South America there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life.

In Europe an egg was hung on New Year trees, on Maypoles, and on St. John's trees in midsummer. Indeed, all meant egg as a symbol of the regenerative forces of nature. Later during the Christian period, it was believed that eggs laid on Good Friday, if kept for a hundred years, would have their yolks turn to diamond If Good Friday eggs were cooked on Easter they would promote the fertility of the trees and crops and protect against sudden deaths. And, if you would find two yolks in an Easter egg, be sure, you're going to be rich soon.

Eggs were said to be dyed and eaten at the spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The Persians of that time gave eggs as gifts at the vernal equinox. But it is not very clear how those colored eggs have come in to dominate the Easter basket In fact, they have become so popular with the Easter celebration, that they even started to dominate the ancient concepts of the symbolism of eggs. It is speculated that it was introduced in Europe, or, rather Western Europe, during the course of the fifteenth century. This was when missionaries or knights of the Crusades are thought to have brought in the concept of the coloring of eggs westwards.