Orlando and Empathy in Elephants

Gun-toting maniacs are out of control but the problem is not ISIL or guns or Muslims or homophobes.

The world is rife with narcissism. We are surrounded by haters. We have to make hatred not cool.

Unfortunately, hatred has become an acceptable part of our society, especially when it is greased with humor. If you look at sitcoms today, they are rife with smart-alec kids who talk back to their parents, and the dialogue is spattered with insults, etc., affectionately known as Zingers.

It starts here.

Humor is great. I am not saying we have to stop being funny. I am just saying we have to make time to be kind.

We have to make empathy, kindess cool again. How do we do that? The “pay it forward” concept was a good beginning.

Empathy has been my mission for a few years now; I keep trying to spread the message when I take Clifford to his events.

In my research today, I found (not surprisingly) that one of the beasts in the animal kingdom who is credited with empathy is the elephant.


It is perhaps a stroke of fortune that elephants in general could use a little empathy themselves — so this is the perfect symbol for my mission.

Also, traditionally, an elephant symbolizes characteristics like

  • strength
  • honor
  • stability
  • patience
  • loyalty
  • protection
  • commitment

All of these grounding traits are wonderful to contemplate.

Since I am a painter, my goal will be to paint an elephant a day for the next 50 days. If my math is right, that puts me into August 1. That is one day for each victim of the Orlando shooting. And I will add an extra day for Christina Grimmie, so that makes it August 2. Oh and let’s add my friend Derek Flemming even though he died in 2014. So August 3, 52 elephants for empathy.

What I would like to do is gift each of these elephants to someone who is in need of empathy… Someone who is hurting in some way, or even just in need of a little encouragement. Or even just to say, “I like you,” or “I love you.” Or “Have a great day.”

Today is Empathy Elephant #1, and his name is Benevolence.



He is painted on a piece of mini slate. His name is written on the back along with my signature.

Do you know someone who could use him?  Email me at justkeeptyping@gmail.com. I will send him to you for free.

Do you see an elephant somewhere? Grab it. Give it to someone.

Let’s make empathy cool again.




About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
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2 Responses to Orlando and Empathy in Elephants

  1. Pingback: 52 Elephants For Empathy: Day 2 | Diary of a Misplaced Yooper: Cliffy's Mom's Blog

  2. Jimmy says:

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