“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 very like 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 and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!”
reached out an 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!”
no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth 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!”
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)
Over the years, John Godfrey Saxe’s version of the “Blind Men and the Elephant” has been used by many sections of people as an analogy to support their own arguments: often about religion, the concept of absolute truth, so on and so forth. Inspired by the same, here is an elefant analysis of the story where a group of blind men touch different parts of an elephant and disagree with each other in their understanding of the elephant.
I, as an elefant, hereby prompt a thought experiment.
Let us accept the fact that most of us are blind with selective and enforced ignorance. We are all gathered in a small room just like the society in which we all co-exist. Now, we place an elephant in the room. This elephant is plopped on the table in front of us. It’s enormous. It’s breathing. It’s moving. It’s growing. It’s feeding. It’s pooping.
We can feel the elephant and its uncomfortable presence, but we fail to address it. We see the elephant but from our side. We refuse to talk about the elephant, in fear of dealing with it. We refuse to ask about or move around to see how the elephant looks like from the other sides. We are afraid to talk. We keep quiet as nobody is talking about it and we don’t want to stand out. Nobody wants to be the first one, in fear of being the only one.
The “silence” breeds and nothing changes except for the elefant which feeds on the all-engulfing silence. And thanks to this self-censored mass silence, we are ignorant of the gravity of the elephant. Each of us understands it by the little we know and try to work our way around the elephant. We fail to come to the realization that addressing this elephant in its entire enormity is the only way of dealing with the consequences of having it in our lives.
Such elephants are present in all our lives: under various names, in various forms, sizes, and colors. What is mutual among all these elephants is the unnerving fact that they are all unmentionable, disgusting, troublesome and silenced.
Now, think of a tomorrow where you are free to breathe in a space with no elefants. That is a tomorrow we are trumpeting towards. Help us reach there in good time, Before it’s too late.
So, let’s start talking about the “ELEFANT IN THE ROOM”.