Children’s Column

The Six Blind Men and the Elephant

There were six men of Meadowfield, to learning much inclined,
Who went to see an 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,
“This mystery of an elephant is very like a wall.”

The second, feeling of the tusk, cried, “Oh, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp? To me it is mighty clear,
This wonder of an elephant is very like a spear.”

The third approached the elephant, and happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake,
“I see,” quoted he, “the elephant is very like a snake.”

The fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt above the knee,
“What this most wondrous beast is like is very plain” said he,
“‘It is clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear said, “Even 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,” said he, “the elephant is very like a rope.”

So six blind men of Meadowfield disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong;
Though each was partly in the right, they all were in the wrong!

Moral: Sometimes, when we view things, we tend to look for the differences while we may get distracted by similarities, but we may miss the truth entirely!

“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” – Werner Heisenberg

“If each had a candle and they went in together the differences would disappear.” (Rumi)

“Attacking one element of injustice gives a limited and sometimes inaccurate perspective of the big picture!”

“As we apply this to organizations around the globe, we see that it is NOT the people who are blind – they see issues VERY clearly! But they see these issues through the lens of their position – Sales, Production, Finance, Logistics, HR…using the elephant metaphor above; it is the organization that is functioning ‘blindly.’”

“Seeing the whole elephant:  When we create for ourselves opportunity to stand back a little, we give ourselves a better chance to see the whole, with all senses and with more ways of knowing – with what is offered by all disciplines. We can experience the whole elephant.”

A Shift in Perspective

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat.

A busy man was walking by the building when he saw the boy. The man stopped, thinking for a moment. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words on it. He put the sign back in such a way that everyone who walked by would be able to see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up quite quickly. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.

That afternoon, the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”

The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.”

What he had written was:“Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it.”


Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing?

Of course both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so blessed that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

“It is He, Who has created for you (the sense of) hearing (ears), sight (eyes), and hearts (understanding). Little thanks you give.”[The Qur’an: Surah al-Mu’minun; 78]

Did You Know That…?


  1. Trained pigeons can tell the difference between the paintings of Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet.
  1. The peacock mantis shrimp can throw a punch at 50 mph, accelerating quicker than a .22-caliber bullet.
  1. Studies have shown that wild chimps in guinea drink fermented palm sap, which contains about 3% alcohol by volume.
  1. The chevrotain is an animal that looks like a tiny deer with fangs.
  1. Capuchin monkeys pee on their hands to wash their feet.
  1. Only the males are called peacocks. Females are called peahens.
  1. Dragonflies and damselflies form a heart with their tails when they mate.
  1. Baby elephants suck their trunks for comfort.
  1. Tigers have striped skin as well. each pattern is as unique as a fingerprint.
  1. There was once a type of crocodile that could gallop
About YMD

Past Issues