Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Three Blind Men and the Elephant

Before I even start today's essay may I digress and mention just how wonderful and powerful the Internet has become. We literally are combining the resources of the entire world. Each person and each institution contributes his or her interests and knowledge. And it's all here, in one easy to use format, to benefit all humankind. At least the portion of humankind that can afford access or lives in a country or region where the leaders do not fear knowledge. But I digress.

By searching the Internet I located dozens of links to different versions of the ancient story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Perhaps the best known is John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the Indian version of the legend. Here is the link I used to a page created by Duen Hsi Yen. It's a wonderful resource.
The Blind Men and the Elephant. It is believed the original parable originated in China sometime during the Han dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). There are also African versions and, of course, Saxe's retelling of the Indian version.

The Three Blind Men and the Elephant

    It was three 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 approached 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 he spake:"
    I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
    Is very like a snake!"

Today, the wake of Hurricane Katrina we have many members of the leadership of the Democrat Party who are demanding an immediate investigation of the failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Government in general in their response to the hurricane and its horrific aftermath.

Many are calling for the firing or resignation of Michael Brown, FEMA's Director and some are calling for the termination of Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security as well.

And, as would be expected, many are putting the entire blame for the aftermath on the doorstep of George Bush himself. Into the mix are cries of racism or prejudice against the poor and disadvantaged.

There is no doubt the each of these people deserve a lot of the blame for what happened.

Leading the increasingly partisan attack are Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Leader in the House of Representatives, Harry Reid, the Democrat Leader of the Senate and, of course, Howard Dean, the head of the Democrat Party. Each are demanding an immediate investigation. They want to examine the elephant!

Nevermind that the elephant is still raging, still running at full speed. Nevermind that such an investigation at this time would sap resources needed to save lives, find and identify the dead and restore the homes of the living.

And certainly nevermind that many facts will not even be known for weeks. Let's examine the elephant!

But, in a blatant and very dangerous partisan move, the Democrats are demanding that such an investigation be limited to FEMA and the Federal Government's role in the disaster. Such a move will insure that any investigation will be blind to the totality of factors that led to the tragedy.

Here is a summary of recently revealed facts concerning the most visible tragedy in New Orleans. The following is from an analysis by Audrey Hudson and James G. Lakely in the Washington Times.

    FEMA has been harshly criticized by Democrats in Congress, who have demanded that Director Michael D. Brown resign. But FEMA was in place as the storm approached and the Louisiana National Guard delivered seven trailers with food and water Aug. 29 and another seven truckloads on Aug. 30 to the Superdome to help feed the 25,000 people inside.

    Confusion reigned in Katrina's aftermath. A state-of-the-art mobile hospital developed with Homeland Security grants to respond to disasters and staffed by 100 doctors and paramedics was left stranded in Mississippi because Louisiana officials would not let it deploy to New Orleans.

    Red Cross officials say the organization was well positioned to provide food, water and hygiene products to the thousands stranded in New Orleans. But the state refused to let them deliver the aid.

    "Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities, and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders," the Red Cross said last week on its Web site.

It's terribly tragic that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Howard Dean are working to stop any inquiry that includes examination of local or state response to Hurricane Katrina.

God Forbid we take steps that would actually identify and fix the response problems before the next disaster. Nope, we don't want anything fixed.

You see our three blind men (persons) don't really want to examine the elephant. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Howard Dean want to pin the blame on the Elephant.

And so John Saxe completes his parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant:

    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!

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