The name of this blog reflects an ancient parable that originated in
. Over the years it has taken on many forms, but basically it goes like this. India
Several blind men were once brought to encounter an elephant for the first time. As they approached, the first man began to examine the elephant’s trunk and declared that an elephant is like a great snake. The next encountered the tusk and proclaimed that an elephant is like a wonderful spear. As one man examined the ear, the elephant was determined to be like a large leathery blanket. The one who grasped the leg assured his companions that an elephant was, in fact, like a great tree. The next passed his hands over the enormous side of the elephant and insisted that it was like a great wall. The last man took hold of the elephant’s tail and was certain that an elephant was like a rope.
Each of the men insisted that his perception was the right one and declared the others to be absolutely wrong. The debate grew into a heated argument with each man growing louder and more insistent about the truth of his opinion and the error of the others. Finally, the elephant grew tired of the tumult and wandered off, leaving the blind men to argue about the nature of an elephant.
Initially, this parable was probably intended to illustrate the foolishness of debating various religious persuasions. However, this analogy could just as easily be applied to any complex issue where there are differing opinions. Too often limited perspective, huge egos, and a need to be “right” override dialog, cooperation, and humility.
I would like to rewrite the end of this parable like this:
As the elephant turned to walk off, the men were all exposed to a different part of the elephant and realized that their initial assumptions were limited. With a genuine desire to learn from one another, they all began sharing what they each knew about the elephant, and before long, each one had a complete understanding of what an elephant is really like.
I am just naïve enough to believe that open and honest dialog can resolve the majority of our conflicts, lead to a more complete understanding of reality, and possibly enable us to develop a sustainable planet. It is my intention to share my perceptions as I hang on to my little part of the elephant.