Posted in Family and Society, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Choose the Shades

With the advent of technology, there is a whole world of information out there. Along with it comes a slew of ideas, thoughts and opinions for the various events we find ourselves surrounded by. Consequently there is always a tussle between what is true or correct and what is wrong or falsified. Unfortunately not everything is in black or white, there are shades of gray that are far too many to differentiate. It becomes quite difficult to decide on the final course of action or words to reach an outcome.

Many claim on bringing the truth to light. Yet the truth can be tinged by the shades of relativity, haziness to opaqueness, lack or inaccessibility of information, communication deficits and sometimes varies as per one’s perspective. So how to discern the right and the wrong ? That’s when we remove the filters in our mind and look at the bare bones of basic facts.

Then we can imagine a blank page and then try drawing on it. With our senses finely attuned and instincts honed in, we can get the picture as long as all preconceived notions and perceptions are thrown out of mind. For besides misinterpretation, the latter clouds our individual thinking and judgement. Instead we lean on our strong sense of morality, honour and humanness to highlight the right colours to blend in as we draw the lines or curves. In such a scenario, the picture we draw would make us feel satisfied.

As an old Indian folklore goes, every blind man had felt the elephant but in parts, for none of them could step back and see the bigger picture. In real life, there may be situations where we have to decide an outcome or relay information, which would consequently lead to a chain of events which can be disastrous for some while positive for others. Then instead of clouding our minds with what we know, it’s easier to take a fresh page, write in the lines and then put in all the facts and knowledge that we have gleaned through our travels of life. For then even though perspectives may vary, the decisions will be based in a complete context on hard facts, certainty and true events not on speculation, hearsay or filtered imaginations. What’s good for one may be bad for others, but in the long run if both benefit then it is worth the change.

The Blind Men and The Elephant

A long time ago in the valley of the Brahmaputra River in India there lived six men who were much inclined to boast of their wit and lore. Though they were no longer young and had all been blind since birth, they would compete with each other to see who could tell the tallest story. One day, however, they fell to arguing. The object of their dispute was the elephant. Now, since each was blind, none had ever seen that mighty beast of whom so many tales are told. So, to satisfy their minds and settle the dispute, they decided to go and seek out an elephant. Having hired a young guide, Dookiram by name, they set out early one morning in single file along the forest track, each placing his hands on the back of the man in front. It was not long before they came to a forest clearing where a huge bull elephant, quite tame, was standing contemplating his menu for the day.
The six blind men became quite excited; at last they would satisfy their minds. Thus it was that the men took turns to investigate the elephant’s shape and form.

As all six men were blind, neither of them could see the whole elephant and approached the elephant from different directions. After encountering the elephant, each man proclaimed in turn:
“O my brothers,” the first man at once cried out, “it is as sure as I am wise that this elephant is like a great mud wall baked hard in the sun.”
“Now, my brothers,” the second man exclaimed with a cry of dawning recognition, “I can tell you what shape this elephant is – he is exactly like a spear.”
The others smiled in disbelief.
“Why, dear brothers, do you not see,” said the third man, “this elephant is very much like a rope,” he shouted.
“Ha, I thought as much,” the fourth man declared excitedly, “this elephant much resembles a serpent.”
The others snorted their contempt.
“Good gracious, brothers,” the fifth man called out, “even a blind man can see what shape the elephant resembles most. Why he’s mightily like a fan.”
At last, it was the turn of the sixth old fellow and he proclaimed, “This sturdy pillar, brothers, mine, feels exactly like the trunk of a great areca palm tree.”
Of course, no one believed him.

Their curiosity satisfied, they all linked hands and followed the guide, Dookiram, back to the village. Once there, seated beneath a waving palm, the six blind men began disputing loud and long. Each now had his own opinion, firmly based on his own experience, of what an elephant is really like. For after all, each had felt the elephant for himself and knew that he was right!And so indeed he was. For depending on how the elephant is seen, each blind man was partly right, though all were in the wrong.