Monday, November 20, 2023

A Tale for this Day.

The Blind Men And The Elephant

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!"

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: "Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!"

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up he spake
the elephant is very like a snake!"

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain," quoth he;
"Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree."

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; "E'en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!"

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
"I see," quothe he, "the elephant is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen! 

                                                             John Godfrey Saxe

Although Saxe died in 1887, his words still ring true today. So many blind people in this world, each of us partly in the right and all of us in the wrong. Not one of us has the whole picture, yet we each have our opinions, exceeding stiff and strong.

Tim bought an old gas light that had been converted to electric. We ripped it apart and began to clean it. Tim kept saying, "This is copper." Looking at the framework that I was polishing, I kept telling him firmly, "You are wrong. It is brass." 

The debate went on as we cleaned away years of tarnish. Finally, in the end, both of us stared at the work of the other. He held a copper decroative piece that went at the top of the light. I held my brass frame work. 

Each of us was partly in the right. We both were in the wrong! 

31 comments:

  1. So nice to be reminded of that wonderful rhyme. Glad that you both saw the light!

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  2. It sounds like an Aesop Fable the poem, thank you for introducing it. As for the light revealing all, or at least the polishing, never arrive at an opinion till you are sure of your facts.

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  3. Nice work and very apt in these times.

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  4. I've always loved that poem. I did laugh at you and your husband both being right and wrong - that's a lovely story.

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    1. I had heard it as a Kipling story. It is way older than him. The story even predates Saxe.

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  5. What a wonderful insightful poem. Never heard it before, thank you for posting it.

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  6. Any chance of a photo of the gas light Debby?

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    1. I will take a picture of it. Right now it is in pieces. But I can show you. I meant to tell you as well, there was no art being sold at this auction. It was all tools and a few things for the home. It was mainly a tool auction thought. They have a big auction on New Years day though. Perhaps then.

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  7. My BiL would use that. In his case the whole elephant was Jesus. It was not convincing.

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    1. Some people don't realize they're just making people go the opposite way with their insistence they are right. Anybody's opinion, no matter how much they believe it, could be wrong unless there is real proof that you can see and touch. That's what we Christians don't think about sometimes. All the talk in the world is not going to change that.

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    2. AC, I applied that poem to God. All the differences in faiths around the world, all the war, all the bitterness and death, all in the name of 'my faith is right. Your faith is wrong'. What if God is like an elephant. Each has their view of him. If only we could see that piece as part of something much bigger. But we don't. We won't. Our disputes are long and loud. Our disputes are killing children.

      Donna, you are as right as you can be.

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  8. Not everything is black or white is it? My dear husband doesn't see it that way though!

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    1. No matter what facts you provide, some people just won't see it anyways.

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    1. I went to bed last night and that poem niggled at me. I realized as I was falling asleep that the third man's take did not rhyme. I was too tired to get back out of bed and fix it. I had copied and pasted from one site. They have it wrong. I've corrected it.

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  10. Great example between your task with your husband and the age old poem. I was enjoying several programs last night on elephants. They certainly are amazing animals, yet I fear Africa/Asia will someday not have the room for them. For now there''s plenty of space, some managed to provide their needs by man even. They are one of my favorite animals. Nothing ecclesiastical about them at all.

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    1. The parable is an ancient technique. While the elephant is not eccliastical, it was meant to illustrate something far bigger than the elephant. Tolkien did it with Aslan. Bell did it with Barrington.

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    2. My god. Aslan is C.S. Lewis' creation. Sorry, Dave! I knew you would catch this in an eyeblink.

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  11. That's a great thought to share right now, Debby.

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  12. I try to live by the moral of that poem, especially here on the internet where news is quick to flow and often, not all the facts are known, well into a trial sometimes years later. I often get castigated for not siding with one side or the other as a result. Fortunately I have fairly thick skin.

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    1. Sometimes knowing the facts doesn't matter in the least. People find it easy to dismiss them.

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  13. Oh, that's funny, about the copper. And yes, there's a lot of truth in that poem!

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    1. When I was in college I wrote a really terrible poem called "Helen Keller at the Stuffed Okapi," about what a blind person would experience touching a taxidermied animal, and how unlike an actual animal that would be. What possessed me to write this, having never been blind myself and having very little experience with taxidermy, I have no idea.

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    2. That is actually a very interesting thought. A skin, pulled over a taxidermy frame cannot convey the essence of the beast.

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  14. That was a great poem- I haven't heard it in years and it's timeless and wise. Thanks for sharing it. Lini in Petaluma

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    1. Funny how something written so long ago can be so very relevant 250 years later. We will never learn.

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