Elections and the Parable of the Blind Men

by | Nov 6, 2020 | Formation, Reflections | 2 comments

Elections are over yet it seems we can not let go. So many opinions … what pollsters missed, what parties learned, what I learned…

I offer this post from ancient Indian tradition for our reflection. It offers a perspective when facing many different opinions. I have also been thinking about how it applies to blind men in my mind.

Elephant and the Blind Men

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”

They had no idea what an elephant was. They decided, “Even though we will not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.

“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
“Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
“It is like a big hand fan,” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
“It is like a solid pipe,” said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated.

A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like.

The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. So, actually, the elephant has all those features you all described.”

“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have a different perspective which we may not agree to. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, “Maybe you have your reasons.” This way we don’t get into arguments.

As I dialogue with my inner pollsters and other voices there is much I can learn… if I am truly smart.

Source: jainworld.com


  1. Ross

    In the old days, the argument against religious freedom was that “error has no right.” Thanks to John Courtney Murry, S.J., wee know better today and admit that every person has rights.

    Accordingly, I submit that the dignity, good and rights of every person should be our starting-point. In this way, I think, we can rise above arguments and contribute to knowing the truth better and more fully, and also transition smoothly and peacefully from the tyranny of both relativism and absolutism to service, and thus attain a more perfect union.

    • Ross

      Please add to my comment above “one person at a time,” right after “more perfect union.”

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