THE STORY OF THE SIX BLIND MEN
('In Standard English')
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived six blind men. Each of them was very wise. Each of them had gone to school and read lots of books in braille.
They knew so much about so many things that people
would often come from miles around to get their advice. They were happy
to share whatever they knew with
the people who asked them thoughtful questions.
One day these six wise blind men went for a walk in the zoo. That day the zoo-keeper was worrying about all of her many troubles.
The night before she had had an argument with
her husband, and her children had been misbehaving all day long. She had
so much on her mind that she forgot to
lock the gate of the elephant cage as she was leaving it.
Now, elephants are naturally very curious animals.
They quickly tried to push the gate to the cage to see if it might open.
To their great surprise, the gate swung freely
on its hinge. Two of the more daring elephants walked over to the gate. They looked left and right, and then quietly tip-toed out of the cage.
Just at that moment the six blind men walked by. One of them heard a twig snap, and went over to see what it was that was walking by.
"Hi there !" said the first blind man to the first
elephant. "Could you please tell us the way to the zoo restaurant ?" The
elephant couldn't think of anything intelligent to
say, so he sort of shifted his weight from left to right to left to right.
The first blind man walked over to see if this
big silent person needed any help. Then, with a big bump, he walked right
into the side of the elephant. He put out his
arms to either side, but all he could feel was the big body of the elephant.
"Boy," said the first blind man. "I think I must
have walked into a wall. "The second blind man was becoming more and more
curious about what was happening. He
walked over to the front of the elephant and grabbed hold of the animal's trunk.
He quickly let go and shouted, "This isn't a wall.
This is a snake! We should step back in case it's poisonous." The third
man quickly decided to find out what was
going on, and to tell his friends what they had walked into.
He walked over to the back of the elephant and
touched the animal's tail. "This is no wall, and this is no snake. You
are both wrong once again. I know for sure that
this is a rope."
The fourth man sighed as he knew how stubborn
his friends could be. The fourth blind man decided that someone should
really get to the bottom of this thing. So he
crouched down on all fours and felt around the elephant's legs. (Luckily for the fourth man, this elephant was very tame and wouldn't think of stepping on a human
"My dear friends," explained the fourth man. "This
is no wall and this is no snake. This is no rope either. What we have here,
gentlemen, is four tree trunks. That's it.
The fifth blind man was not so quick to jump to
conclusions. He walked up to the front of the elephant and felt the animal's
two long tusks. "It seems to me that this
object is made up of two swords," said the fifth man. "What I am holding is long and curved and sharp at the end. I am not sure what this could be, but maybe our
sixth friend could help us."
The sixth blind man scratched his head and thought
and thought. He was the one who really was the wisest of all of them. He
was the one who really knew what he
knew, and knew what he didn't know.
Just then the worried zoo-keeper walked by. "Hi
there ! How are you enjoying the zoo today ?" she asked them all. "The
zoo is very nice," replied the sixth blind
man. "Perhaps you could help us figure out the answer to a question that's been puzzling us."
"Sure thing," said the zoo-keeper, as she firmly grabbed the elephant's collar.
"My friends and I can't seem to figure out what
this thing in front of us is. One of us thinks it's a wall; one thinks
it's a snake; one thinks it's a rope, and one thinks it's
four tree trunks. How can one thing seem so different to five different people?" "Well," said the zoo-keeper. "You are all right. This elephant seems like something
different to each one of you. And the only way to know what this thing really is, is to do exactly what you have done. Only by sharing what each of you knows can
you possibly reach a true understanding."
The six wise men had to agree with the wisdom
of the zoo-keeper. The first five of them had been too quick to form an
opinion without listening to what the others
had to say.
So they all went off to the zoo restaurant and had a really hearty lunch.
(This story is a well-known fable from India. Modernized and re-told by Phil Shapiro)
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