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  • Writer's pictureJoan Carris



I’ll bet you remember the Carthaginian general Hannibal, mainly because he went to war with trained elephants. That custom ran in the family. His father, Hamilcar, always took elephants to war. We’re talking about 200+ B.C. here, when the Carthaginians fought the 3 Punic Wars against their bitter enemies, the Romans.

Though warlike and stubborn, Hamilcar’s family was patient, repeatedly depending on their elephants to triumph over the dratted Romans, even though history had shown that fellows who took elephants to war NEVER won the war. Never. Hamilcar chose to ignore history and so did his son, Hannibal, who also never won a war with his elephants, although he took 57 of them to the Second Punic War, over the Alps and into Italy.

I’d like to know what the elephants thought of crossing the Alps, but no one asked them. One glance at elephants’ bodies and feet, though, gives us a fair idea of how they viewed mountain climbing.

And so here we are—history and patience and elephants and war and stubbornness all mixed together. Now, in the autumn of 2020, we are at war with an enemy, the stubborn Covid-19 virus, and we pray for patience. Historic medical records dating back to the 1918 pandemic DO give us plenty of information, however. So if we are patient and do what history and modern science tell us, we’ll eventually win the war.

Seems to me there’s an old saying: Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. Not humorous, I know, but at this point I don’t care.


Highly Recommended Reading: (non-fiction)

Elephant Company, by Vicki Constantine Croke

The Elephant Whisperer, by Lawrence Anthony

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