I have come to use elephants a lot in telling stories. I first used an elephant to describe my weight loss campaign. I pose this question “How do you eat an elephant?…one bite at a time” to describe how we deal with the problems confronting our youth. We tackle the situations one issue at a time.  This time I want to use the “Baby Elephant Syndrome” to describe where this weight journey has taken me and how we need to change the way we view our youth.

There is a story about elephants and their owners in Africa. An elephant can easily uproot huge trees with its trunk. It can knock down a house without much trouble. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain every night. It is the nature of elephants to roam free, thus the baby elephant instinctively tries with all his might to break the rope. But it isn’t yet strong enough to do so. Realizing his efforts are of no use, it finally gives up struggling. The baby elephant tried and failed many times, it will never try again for the rest of his life. Later,  when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make the slightest attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities by the limitations of the past—hence, the Baby Elephant Syndrome. Humans are exactly like the elephant except for one thing — we can chose not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past.

To date, I have loss 60 pounds and I have not adjusted to that much weight being gone. I still do some things as if I still have the weight.   Occasionally, I would use a chair, table, or a wall to assist me in getting up, move around, or get in/out of a car. This started out as an innocent prop. It became a habit. I would not try to see if I could get up on my own. Since losing weight, I have kept using a crutch, mostly out of habit. Yesterday, I realized I am lighter and even more agile, so I really need to stop. I have to CHOOSE to alter that habit. Before and today, I can move around with very little, if any, assistance. Just like the elephant, I limited myself and my ability. I have to take the chance to see if I can snap the rope and walk on my own strength.

How does this apply to our youth? Day in and out, we see and read stories showing that our youth don’t have the ability to learn and are victims of violence. As a matter fact, homicide was the second leading cause death of among the youth. We decide how society view today’s youth. If we tackle the problems one issue at a time, we can change how our youth are viewed and, more importantly, change their outcomes. Instead of forwarding stories that put our youth in a bad light, we should share stories of accomplishments. We should share stories of youth programs, we should make these stories go viral. If we flood today’s social media with positive stories society will be forced to see the good. Social media was able to topple a government earlier this year, why can’t we use it to better our communities?