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Six Men

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Not once upon a time – one time. Just, one time. One. Time. This one time, there were these six guys. They were pals. And highly competitive. Interestingly, they were also all vision impaired. Actually, they were all totally, and legally – blind. As in, these six men all identified as blind.

So – these six guys were all also into sports. And, in the land where they came from, the popular sports often included live animals. Not a big surprise, then – that they happened upon – an elephant!

But, because they were vision impaired (blind), they identified as blind, and, because of this – they did not know it was an elephant. So – here is what they found…

The first man happened to reach out and, he touched the elephant on its side. At this, he declared – “Ahh, Haaah!!” We’ve come upon a wall!

The second man was also reaching about, and happened to latch hold of the elephant’s tusk. Feeling it round and smooth, with a sharp point – he said, “Alas, what have we here? I do believe it is a spear!”

The third fellow gingerly touched the elephant’s leg and knee. Patting gently, he exclaimed, “Oh, my! It is a tree!”

Just then the elephant curled it’s trunk to wrap around the fourth man, to his great surprise. In the middle of the air he swung his arms about, like he was swimming in a lake – then he shrieked, shivered, and cried, “No, no – it’s a snake!”

The next blind fellow knew nothing of all this, yet he was not easily intrigued. More puzzled he was when, with the hands of a big strong man – the elephant’s ear he touched! Then, feeling the breeze of a gentle back-and-forth flick, the fifth man exclaimed, “I feel, I know – it is a fan!”

The sixth man who also identified himself as blind, he grabbed the tail of the elephant firmly in in a bind. It made some sense to him, and he thought it very keen. So much so that he was filled with hope – that the tail in his hands, he said, “must surely be a rope!”

So what can we take away from all of this?

In summary, these six men, they were all only partly right, but at the same time they were all – surely wrong. Partially informed opinions do not make them the right opinions. Yes, we have a tendency to jump the gun, especially in the world of sports and recreation analysis and instruction. We can often get ahead of ourselves, and at times we are quick to speak our supposed informed opinion – without…actually…having…a fully informed mind.

So – those folks who speak out, and make decisions based on being only partly right – don’t judge them. We all do that, to some degree. And rather, just be and do your level best to be fully informed before throwing shade – anywhere.

Adapted from the poem: “Six Men of Indostan”

By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman
Dr. Rodney J. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at rblackman@ussa.edu.
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