“Elephants and Birds”

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

“As an old African proverb has it, “When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.”  The weak get hurt in conflicts between the powerful.  Americans at the bottom of the income scale are always the ones who lose when contempt crowds out cooperation at the top.  The politics of contempt never hurts the rich very much.  It hurts people in poverty.  We should all be able to agree that that’s bad.” (Love Your Enemies, Arthur Brooks, P.33)

I’ve grown to regret what I call the ‘residual impact’ of conflict.  When there are wars, it is the innocent that suffer the greatest.  When there are church squabbles, it is the innocent by-stander that gets waylaid as people fuss and fight around them.  I’ve known people who have been hurt over the most ridiculous things…color of carpet, location of a new building, staff changes, leadership decisions of all shapes and sizes.  The proverb is true…’when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers’.

The human capacity to be immature is mind-boggling.  At times, we all suffer from it.  We steer away from the hard ‘one on one’ conversations.  It much easier to gossip.  Rather than address our own immaturity of spirit and/or emotions, it’s easier to blame others for our own weaknesses.  We spend energy in the wrong direction…looking for others who will choose our side rather than looking inward for a potentially necessary change of heart.

The journey of spiritual and emotional maturation is a marathon not a sprint.  I encourage us to stay on task by being honest with ourselves and listening to those whom we deem mature as they give us honest feedback.  Avoid the temptation which we call ‘birds of a feather flock together’.  Remember there are always those places in each of us that we have yet to see about ourselves.  It takes courage to let someone else point that out…but the reward can be life lifting.

‘When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.’  Profound and true.  How is the grass in your neck of the woods?

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

Always Thinking…

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