K for Kaleidoscope
Once upon a time there was a village where all the inhabitants were blind. One day a foreign prince who was passing through the land stopped his convoy in front of the walls of this village.
Immediately it was said among the inhabitants that the prince mounted an extraordinary animal. It was an elephant. In that land elephants did not exist and no one had any idea what these animals were like.
The citizens decided to send six people to touch the animal so that they could describe it to all the others.
On their return the six blind men were welcomed by villagers. They were eager to know what elephant looked like.
“Well,” said the first, “an elephant is like an enormous wrinkled fan.”
He had touched the ears.
“Absolutely not,” said the second. “It is like a couple of long bones.”
He had touched the tusks.
“What are you saying? It’s more like a tree trunk,” said the fourth who had touched the legs.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” said the fifth. “An elephant is like a breathing wall.
He had touched its hips.
“That’s not true,” shouted the sixth. “An elephant is like a long rope.”
He had touched the tail.
The six blind men began to fight, each refusing to listen to the description of the other five.
Attracted by their shouting, the prince came to see what was happening.
“Sir,” said an old man, “we sent six men to understand what your elephant is like and each one of them says something different. We don’t know who to believe.”
The prince listened to the six blind men as they described the elephant again. After a long silence he declared: “All six are telling the truth, but each one only touched one part of the animal and so he only knows that part of the truth. While each one continues to believe that he is the only one who is right no one will know the entire truth. Do the different colours of the kaleidoscope not come together to make one splendid design?
The prince went on the describe the elephant putting together the six descriptions. And so the villagers finally discovered what that extraordinary animal looked like.
From the book: “ The wisdom alphabet” – Johanna Marin, Lydia Marin Ross