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A tail of perceptions – A Christmas Gift

By December 2, 2015Newsletters

As a kid I remember Christmas being a time of sitting around an open fire, listening to stories, especially told by relatives and the stories so often conjured up thought-provoking ideas and reflections. I liked the subtle play on the three wise men of the Christmas story and this wonderful prose from Rudyard Kipling. Here’s a charming short story that just might find a place into your classroom or your holiday time.

Wishing you a very merry winter holiday from The Vision Journal.

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The wise men and the elephant

Six wise men of India

An elephant did find

And carefully they felt its shape (For all of them were blind).

The first he felt towards the tusk, ‘It does to me appear. This marvel of an elephant

Is very like a spear’.

The second sensed the creature’s side

Extended flat and tall,
‘Ahah!’ he cried and did conclude,

‘This animal’s a wall’.

The third had reached towards a leg And said, ‘It’s clear to me

What we should all have instead This creature’s like a tree’.

The fourth had come upon the trunk

Which he did seize and shake, Quoth he,

‘This so-called elephant
s really just a snake’.

The fifth had felt the creature’s ear

And fingers o’er it ran,
‘I have the answer, never fear,

The creature’s like a fan!’

The sixth had come upon the tail

As blindly he did grope,

‘Let my conviction now prevail

This creature’s like a rope’.

And so these men of missing sight

Each argued loud and long

Though each was partly in the right

They all were in the wrong.

Rudyard Kipling


Reflections on the story:


  1. What events this term have left you thinking about the differences in perception that others have compared to you? How has this impacted on you?
  2. What might be alternative perceptions you can bring to that difference of view or opinion?
  3. Who might benefit from hearing this Elephant story? And what might the reflective questions be to accompany it?