Within the next ten or twenty years, the last elephant (outside captivity) will die or be killed–if people continue to think the way they presently do (“Let’s send poachers to jail,” “Let’s sentence them to twenty years . . . fifty years . . . a thousand years.”) On the last day, when the last poacher raises his rifle, what “attempts at mind change” will have failed? Will any have been attempted at all?
Most people seem to believe that only fighting is effective—and they argue exactly like this: “If the last two Ibex are standing in the last unplowed field and are about to be shot, and all attempts at mind change have failed; what do we do?” This is their justification for fighting. The fact is that if six billion people think it doesn’t matter whether those ibex live or die, then they’re doomed. But if six billion people think those ibex should be kept alive at any cost, how much danger will they be in?
When you defeat a thousand opponents, you still have a thousand opponents. When you change a thousand minds, you have a thousand allies.
posted: 10 May 1999
updated: 01 Apr 2002