The Blind Man and the Elephant

The more I read in Adopto-Blogville, the more this story I heard in grade school rattles around in my brain.

The Blind Man 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 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!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like ~ Is mighty plain,” quoth her;
“‘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,” 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

I try so hard to remember that MY perspective and experience and background is just my own, no one else’s. And each adopted person’s experience, first mother’s background, each are all their own. The way we see the truth, the way we approach each situation, the way we express our thoughts–none of these can be the same, so its no wonder there is so much disagreement, especially given such a big “elephant”. I just wish the dialog between all of us “blind men” could stay open and respectful.



Filed under adoption, reflection, semantics

6 responses to “The Blind Man and the Elephant

  1. I remember that story…. thanks I needed to read that today as well

  2. goingbacktosquareone

    Great poem. I’ve never heard that one before! (Which is amazing, given the amount of reading I do!)

    It seems perspective is very much on all our minds lately, doesn’t it?

  3. I love that. So very true, so very very true.

  4. finally…I can sigh after reading a blog post about adoption that takes no sides… sigh…

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