MCD Partners

Memphis Daily News
Protecting Our Children
February 9, 2017
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

There is an African saying: “When elephants fight, only the grass gets trampled.” Since my only encounters with elephants are limited to an occasional trip to the zoo, I didn’t understand the significance of that saying until I saw elephants fighting on an Animal Planet show.

It didn’t look like fighting. It was more like intimidation by sheer weight and size, posturing for the turf they trampled. They were too big to even look down at the damage beneath their feet. The grass was too insignificant to matter. It was then that I realized what that saying meant.

When the “elephants” of society fight, those who are powerless get trampled. The ones overpowered by the weight and size of the elephants are ignored in the power struggle. Many times, they are the children.

The rulers, the power brokers, the forces of the darkness of greed and moral decay all posture for turf, and our children fall victim to the reality of evil. They live the effects of this evil every day as they experience abuse, neglect, loneliness, fear, overindulgence, weakness, violence, poverty and materialism. It seems as if what is in the best interest of the children is not a consideration.

Why would we wonder why there are young people who are violent, addicted to drugs and alcohol, sexually promiscuous, obscene in speech and dress, immoral and amoral in behavior? Why wouldn’t there be? Society has surrounded them with role models, icons and leaders in all fields who are the same.
Our children are unsafe explorers without guides in a cyberspace world of virtual reality. Telling our children to “just say no” to all that might harm them is like telling the grass to get out of the way of a thundering herd of elephants.

Childhood has been suspended by a society that is perpetually intimidated by unprecedented events that shock, demoralize and devalue human life. How do we bring back childhood? Who will say, “Enough!” or post the sign that reads “Keep Off the Grass?” Who will protect the children and lift them out of this darkness?

I know there are many parents who feel alone, discouraged and confused. They feel the weight of a world that seems to celebrate a lack of values, and many are chided for the moral stands they take. They are confronted with choices they never planned to make. They don’t need blame. They need support. They need compassion.

No matter how strong a parent is, the potential to burn out, to give in, will fade in the light of encouragement and compassion received from those who believe that things can be changed. Parents must reclaim their authority. Parents must “just say no.”

Trampled, yes, but the grass is not dead. For the sake of our children, we need to muster the strength to stand firm in our convictions, the courage to support each other and the resolve to keep the elephants off the grass.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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