The Blind Men and an Elephant

We know this famous story – The Blind men and an Elephant. The story is on six different characters at six different positions having six differing point of views about an unknown scenario.

As children, we were amused when Blind Men described an elephant as a rope or a wall etc. We loved the “Wise Man” who, as a passerby, helped those blind men know the “whole truth”.

The story depict arguments and a settlement. But no solution! The “Wise Passerby” makes a guest appearance, promptly settles the argument, thanks to his gifted-sight, and disappears backstage.

The “Passerby” is called “Wise” because he saw the elephant as a whole. He was able to convince those Blind Men that the sum total of their argument equals an Elephant.

What-if the “wise passerby” said it’s a Camel. Pillar and rope etc. can apply both to Elephants and Camels. And the “wise” can concoct explanations to delude the differences. But it’s not wise for the “passerby” to go against the tide. If you see, the “Passerby” was “wise” because he knew that the readers of the story know it’s an elephant. So, it’s always “wise” to side with the majority. Or be dubbed – The Seventh blind man.

This story creates three problem-groups. One, the “reader-group”, the mass, the WE, who already know the whole truth but can’t participate in the solution. Two, the “blind-group”, the others, confused idiots. Three, the “wise-group”, the powerful all-knowers who pass expert comments favourable to “our satisfaction”.

Sure, the arguments of Blind men were silenced. But with no blind-men the wiser! Since no solution was attempted the problem persists to this day. The “passerby” acting as “wise” still pass “judgments”. Look, the ‘Wise passerby” knew before-hand that it’s an Elephant, therefore rope plus wall plus etc. will ultimately be made to equal an elephant. Hence individually held positions are acceptable if that agrees to what the “wise” think as right. Here, the story projects arrogance.

Can this story be retold differently? What-if, the “Wise passerby” chose a different approach. Look, the men were blind but not lame. If they couldn’t see, it doesn’t mean they can’t move to explore. The Blind men listened and bought the “Elephant Theory” from the “wise passerby”. They would do better listening to some wisdom instead!

The “wise passerby” could have said to the six blind men to relax and swap places. So, each of the six will be exposed to the other five positions. Instead of passing “judgment” which left the blind men fixed to their own point of views, the “wise passerby” could have added some wisdom and made the blind men and the readers “see” reason. Hence a workable solution is to have individuals agree with all stated positions. And, no “One” the wiser!