I believe in the parable of the seven blind men and the elephant. In my version,
humanity is represented by seven sisters who have been tasked to explore the universe blindfolded. One day, they happen upon life which is characterized by a large, gray elephant.
The first sister reaches out and touches the elephant’s trunk. She finds it long and curvy and assumes that life must be full of ups and downs.
The second sister gently runs her fingers across the plane of the animal’s ear. “Life must be flat and dull because that is what I feel,” she tells her sisters.
The third sister crouches down close to the ground and strokes the elephant’s hoof. Immediately, she cries out and withdraws her hand which is bloody and torn from the roughness of the horny foot. “You are wrong!” she yells at her sister. “This life is full of pain.”
The fourth sister can’t help but laugh out loud as the elephant’s tail swishes back and forth, tickling her face. “No, it is you who is wrong sister,” she chortles. “Life must be fun and full of humor.”
The fifth sister turns to address the other sisters whose voices are rising in anger. She let’s her fingers slide down the elephant’s long, smooth tusks to their pointed ends and shakes her head sadly. “You are all wrong,” she quietly remarks. “Life is dangerous.”
The sixth sister pulls herself up on top of the elephant. She feels the wind on her face. She peeks out from beneath her blindfold and beholds the splendor of everything around her from the mighty oceans to the majestic mountains. She is awed and humbled. She replaces her blindfold and screams for all to hear, “Life is exhilarating.”
The seventh sister takes refuge underneath the elephant. She feels the warmth of its body and is comforted. She hears its rhythmic breathing and is comforted. She smells it’s musty, sweet odor and is comforted. Life is all around her.
“Sisters,” she calls to the other women. “Stop arguing and remove your blindfolds.” The seven sisters remove their blindfolds and look around. They see in the elephant all the contradictions of life and they are ashamed. “We all experienced life differently and even though we did not agree with each other’s opinions or beliefs, we should have respected each other’s right to believe it,” said the seventh sister.
“Now, replace your blindfolds. We are going to explore organized religion and I hear that it is the biggest bull in all of existence.”
Life is a story. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.