Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blind men and The Green Elephant

When I was little, my grandparents would tell the story of five blind men and an elephant. The story goes something like this:

Five blind travelers gathered at a lodge one night for shelter. They sat around, and to pass the time they shared stories of their adventures. One man mentioned something about an elephant and somehow they began to argue what an elephant looks like. Of course they were all blinded from birth and none of them has ever seen an elephant. They argued and argued and could not reach an agreement as to what an elephant looks like.

The next morning, they continued to argue. A by-passer heard their arguments and told them that there was an elephant at the nearby village, and that they should go check for themselves to 'see' who was right.

The blind men went to the village and were guided to where the elephant was.

The first blind man walked up to the elephant and felt along her leg. He shouted: “Elephants are like pillars, round and solid and supporting the sky above them. They must be the gods that keeps us safe from the falling sky.”

The second man walked up to the elephant and felt along her side and her ear. “You are wrong,” he said, “elephants are like a giant canvas carrying the stories of our lands. Feel along her presence and you will find a map to our rivers and valleys.”

The third man held the elephant’s tail and muttered quietly, “Elephants are like serpents, but with a lion’s mane. It must be descendants of great dragons.”

The fourth walked up to the elephant’s trunk and petted her gently. He felt the moist and soft nostrils and stated as-matter-of-fact, “Elephants are like a mother’s touch. She is a noble animal and a nurturer of our lands.”

The fifty man walked up to the elephant and felt the tusks and their pointy ends. He screamed, “Elephants are the gods of wars. Feel these fearsome lances.”

Recently a few people asked me about the name “The Green Elephant.” First I would like to state that this blog is in no way affiliated with the Republican Party’s “The Green Elephant” Newsletter. I had discovered their trademark registration not too long ago. It was a rather pleasant surprise to find that the Republican Party has been publishing an environmental newsletter since the 90s. But I may have some legal problems using the name and the domain under “The Green Elephant.” I contacted the 501c4 organization that is running the Republican’s newsletter. Their President gladly stated the following:

Hi Jin- This is to confirm that our trademark for “The Green Elephant” is only for a newsletter, printed or digital. We did not register the name for a blog. Our staff contribute to a number of blogs, and we don’t anticipate establishing one anytime soon. And, if we do, we’d find another name for it.

Best wishes.

Robert C. Sisson, President
Republicans for Environmental Protection
971 S. Centerville Road, #139
Sturgis, MI 49091
PH: 269.651.1808
So I want to thank Mr. Sisson for helping clarify this for us.

Lauren and I had decided on the name “The Green Elephant” for a number of reasons. The elephant is a mystical creature in eastern religions and philosophies. We also wanted to hint at the elephant standing in the room that no one seem to care for.
But that’s not the point of this blog. The point is if you had originally thought this is a political blog, you may have committed a similar fallacy we set out to correct. This is not about politics. This is about health, economics, human rights, justice, and everything that compose the totality of the situation of our Sustainability Crisis. I recently had a brief email exchange with a professor about food security and health standards. From that conversation I realized that our social heroes who champion the causes are like the blind men in a room guessing what the elephant looks like. I am trying to turn on a light and help us think of ways of looking at this elephant in light of the human experience. I want us to be united by this topic, instead of divided for political reasons. This is not about who is right or wrong either. It's about what can we do and HOW!?

So that is the story of The Green Elephant. 

Note: This story is updated by another blog post titled Blind leading the Blind: seeing with the eyes of Dr. Colin Campbell. 

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