Describe the elephant

I remember a story about people trying to describe an elephant to a blind man.  They were all standing in a circle and the elephant was in the middle.  Each one described the elephant from their place in the circle.  For example,  if you were standing facing the elephant’s head, you might describe the elephant as a gray triangle with a snake (his trunk) in the middle of it.  I’m probably not doing a very good job re-telling the story but I think that most are familiar with it.  Anyway, the point of the story is that people see things from their own particular perspective depending on who they are and where they are in the circle (of life).

I think that it is important to remember that everything that we see, judge, comment on, and think about,  is peppered by our own perspective.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it may just be a ‘limiting’ thing.  The old adage ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ contains much wisdom.  I’m not sure that we can ever truly remove ‘ourselves’ when assessing  a situation.  Can we ever be really objective?  Do we need to be? 

I think that as long as we are aware that we bring with us baggage, both good and bad, than it’s ok that we see through our own lens.  Perhaps, it can even be better because then we can offer understanding, compassion and love.  I know that if I am seeing my limited part of the elephant, than what I am getting from you is your limited part of the elephant.  Together we can perfectly describe the entire elephant.

Each day we have opportunities to offer opinions and judgments and to listen to those of others.  Each day we can choose ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ or, perhaps there is truth in what we both feel.  Each day we can be grateful for our own ideas and the ideas of those around us, even if we don’t agree with them.  Each day we can remember that we may have only walked a few yards in our shoes….others have walked that mile.

12 thoughts on “Describe the elephant

  1. Alas I have never heard that tale, but thankyou for enlightening me somewhat.
    Yes I agree entirely, about perspectives…
    a bit like when you hear
    he said & she said…
    the truth often lies somewhere in the middle… “it takes two to tango” was a phrase that came to mind.
    but there is more than that…
    The elephant tale is like a jigsaw, it takes all pieces to get the whole picture.
    I like it :O)
    A bit like we are many pieces but one body.
    thanks for the blessing
    and many in returns,

  2. I love that concept, do we really need to be “objective.” I’d never really considered it before, but what a beautiful thought, that we all see through our own unique lens. And so we each bring something different to a situation, or experience. Something another person sees, we might not. It’s the perfect way to learn and grow, being open to the different lenses around us, almost like a kaleidoscope of views.

    1. You’re right, it is like a kaleidoscope of views. The more I think about it Joanne the more I am convinced that we can never really be objective so why not admit that and get on with unity.

    1. Yes, we do and they are the result of our many experiences and lived lives. They can be quite beautiful and they truly help us be compassionate toward others.

  3. I found that all voices are needed to listen to what the Spirit has to say. I have discovered that the Spirit can be voiced in two opposing sides, because both have something to say.
    So, yes, you bring here the beauty of wisdom.
    Thank you.

  4. this is such a good illustration of perspective and how it changes everything. we must pray for the eyes and heart of Christ to love others as he does. Thank you for this.

    1. So true. Laura. We must always pray for the eyes and heart of Christ. It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves and our own ‘right’ opinions.

  5. I like the elephant tale; it really does illustrate perspective so well. My desire is to see others through Jesus’ eyes. I know that I have growing to do in this area and need to be reminded.

    We don’t all receive “light”at the same time on a given subject or truth. We’re all at different mile markers on our journey as Christians; maturity makes a huge difference. Following close to Him and His Word is the commonality, I believe.

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