After posting on Instagram a photo of an elephant to promote our Laos episode, someone posted a sarcastic comment about the elephant enjoying “the rope around its neck and the chair on its back”.
What I did not post and I suppose should have, was an explanation that we discuss the treatment of elephants in Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia in the episode. We talk about ways travelers can make a difference in their sometimes cruel treatment. In fact, that is the entire reason our friends, the elephants, were included in the episode. They provided an “organic” entree to make the point that elephants in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, are sometimes drugged, beaten, etc. into submission for the amusement of “tourists”.
We had tried desperately to shoot at elephant sanctuaries in both Laos and Thailand but either the timing was off or they were too strapped for resources to accommodate us or just didn’t bother to email us back.
After an exchange back and forth on instagram, the commentator said she was a fan of Raw Travel but was “against animal cruelty”. I bet if you ask 10 people, 9.8 out of 10, myself included, will say they too are against animal cruelty.
But this exchange did get me to thinking. Why are we so quick in the West to jump to conclusions and lecture the rest of the world on how they should live? Why should people in the wealthiest economy in the world be able to tell people in one of the poorest what they should and should not be doing? Is it right to do so? I honestly don’t know.