Life Lessons from An Elephant

Have you ever been so adamant about your opinion being the only right one?  Have your kids?  It is a trait common to all of us and one that can be dangerous.  Being “right” comes in handy if you’re on a debate team.   But if this isn’t managed in everyday living, it can contribute to inflated egos, offensive opinions, and frequent arguments with those who dare to differ.   And what if you’re actually wrong?  Being called out on errors and forced to swallow pride is not fun for anyone.  I know, I’ve been there! There is an opportunity here for parents and kids alike.

This thought provoking poem serves as a tool in reminding us that while we may be right, others can also be.  One characteristic of happier relationships is good listening.  When we do this, we become better learners since we consider perspectives other than our own.  Perhaps more importantly, parents and kids who can honor each other’s ideas (even if they don’t agree with them) are likely to have friendlier and happier relationships.  What do you think?

Please leave your comments when you’re done reading John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend:


It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind,) That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant, And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, At once began to bawl: "God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk, Cried, -"Ho! what have we here So very round and smooth and sharp? To me 'tis mighty clear This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal, And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, Thus boldly up and spake: "I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand, And felt about the knee. "What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain," quoth he, "'Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said: "E'en 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, Then, seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, "I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!


So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant Not one of them has seen!