November 2, 2000

Wade Horn tells a story about elephants that has some interesting implications for fatherless homes. It seems that several years ago, rangers in the Kruger National Park in Africa were faced with a problem. The elephant population had grown so large that the herd needed to be reduced. They decided to relocate some of the elephants.

Now these huge creatures are not easily transported. So the rangers constructed a special harness for a helicopter. Unfortunately, the helicopter could only lift juvenile and adult female elephants. It could not lift the larger adult bull elephants, so they were left behind.

All went well until the rangers at the new park noticed that white rhinos were turning up dead. They found to their surprise that they were being killed by bands of young, hyper- aggressive male elephants who knocked the rhinos down and gored them to death.

Such behavior is unheard of in elephants. Elephants are usually docile creatures and kept in line by the dominant adult bull elephant. And that turned out to be the problem. The young elephants were missing the civilizing presence of their elders. Once an adult bull elephant was introduced into the herd, the gangland behavior of the young elephants was stopped by the dominant elephant.

Now you have to be careful not to immediately extrapolate from elephants to humans. But you can see a striking comparison. Think of the pictures we have seen in the last year of young males assaulting women in New York's Central Park. Think of the gangs in the inner city. Think of the rise in crime among adolescent males. Certainly some of this behavior results from the loss of male role models in the home and society. So maybe aggressive, fatherless males in our society have a bit more in common with young, hyper-aggressive male elephants than we would like to admit.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.