The park rangers at a South African wildlife preserve were concerned about the slaughter of 39 rare white rhinos in their park. It turned out that the rhinos were killed not by poachers but rather by juvenile delinquents—teen elephants.The story began a decade ago when the park could no longer sustain the increasing population of elephants. They decided to kill many of the adult elephants whose young were old enough to survive without them. And so, the young elephants grew up fatherless.As time went on, many of these young elephants roamed together in gangs and began to do things elephants normally don't do. They threw sticks and water at rhinos and acted like neighborhood bullies. Without dominant males, the young bulls became sexually active, producing excessive testosterone and exhibiting aggressive behavior. A few young males grew especially violent, knocking down rhinos and stepping or kneeling on them, crushing the life out of them. Mafuto the gang leader eventually had to be killed.The park rangers theorized that these young teen-aged elephants were acting badly because they lacked role models. The solution was to bring in a large male to lead them and to counteract their bully behaviors. Soon the new male established dominance and put the young bulls in their places. The killing stopped
Something inherently destructive is unleashed in the unfathered heart. It may be destructive to others, just as often it is destructive to one's own self. The lack of a father is an invitation to chaos, of one kind or another. And I would suggest that the overly authoritarian father breeds a situation of outward conformity and inner chaos, a tamped down explosion or implosion waiting to happen, perhaps when the repressing authority is lightened. Our innermost self only finds its right order, its released functioning, when the voice of a true father has called it forth to engage rightly and richly with the world. Thank heavens that God has called Himself a "father to the fatherless" because this is hope, salvation and security for all of us whose fathers could not love us.