SoundEagle in the Parable of the Blind Men and an Elephant
For example, the liberty, or rather, the flippancy by which a great number of regular folks are willing to defend or promote their positions, views or perspectives — when they knowingly circumvent much needed examination of, or justifiable objection to, their holding those positions, views or perspectives — by deploying such quotations or similar statements as “I’m entitled to my opinion.”, “Let’s agree to disagree.”, “My choice, not yours.”, “That’s your choice.”, “Each to their own.”, “It’s all subjective.”, “There is no right or wrong.”, “It’s just (a matter of) opinion or cultural difference.”, “Everyone is different.”, “Everyone is equal.” and “Everybody or anybody is entitled to their choices, opinions and views.”, is a very clear indication that those folks are in flagrant disregard or ignorance of the everyday reality that people’s choices, opinions, views and decisions are by no means (guaranteed to be) equal, equitable, acceptable, reasonable, justifiable, defensible, cogent, unproblematic, unselfish and so on, even when universal criteria or wholesale yardsticks can be established and agreed upon. After all, those who are decent and reasonable would have great difficulty in condoning or rationalizing the choices, opinions and views of sociopaths, psychopaths, tormentors, murderers, dictators, swindlers, rapists, bullies, simpletons, bigots, misogynists, racists, hatemongers, and other characters of disrepute. Choices, opinions, views, decisions and even moral concepts and values are only ever going to be cogent and meaningful when applied in relation to something, and when contexts are taken into account, since if all choices, opinions, views, decisions and values were indiscriminately allowed or arbitrarily deemed equal then there would be utter chaos. Of course, people are always going to have different opinions and views, which invariably inform, influence, shape or dictate their lives, decisions and actions. Illustrating this unavoidable fact of life very well is the Chinese idiom or proverb “議論紛紛，莫衷一是，然又引經據典，公有公理，婆有婆理。”, which means that there are plenty of arguments and no one is in agreement even after quoting scriptures and citing classics, much like a man or husband versus a woman or wife, each having their own reason, truth or logic. It goes without saying that a cat will think and do as a cat does, whereas a dog will likewise think and do as a dog does. It can be concluded that people who utter the abovementioned relativistic quotations or statements are essentially presenting hardly any (useful or helpful) information, considering that such blanket quotations or sweeping statements connote and signify very little about anything, being intrinsically devoid of insight and explanatory power, to the extent that their contents are as limited, deficient, commonplace, quotidian, vacuous or superfluous as those of an utterly well-known and invariant fact as “The sun rises from the east.” Not only do such quotations or statements contain little or no information, they also erroneously impart a false sense, or an arbitrary notion, of relativity, entitlement, democracy, arbitration, equality or fairness without qualification, discernment and distinction. In addition, the cogency and validity of such quotations or statements are (very likely to be or invariably) questionable due to false analogy, false equivalence or false balance.
The insidious problems and objectionable aspects of such quotations or statements can be demonstrated by the metaphorical analogy of three blind persons probing an elephant: one probing the leg insists that the elephant is like a pole; the other probing the tail contends that the elephant is like a string; and the one probing the ear asserts that the elephant is like a fan. Since they describe the elephant based on their limited experience, their descriptions of the elephant are therefore radically different from one another. As a result, they begin to suspect that the other persons are dishonest about their descriptions. Each claiming to have the truth and blaming the others for not telling the truth, they start arguing and fighting over their disagreement. The moral of the metaphorical analogy is that humans have a tendency to claim absolute truth based on their rigid, limited and subjective experience, especially when they are ignorant of or impervious to the totality of truth. By logic and necessity, only the person who has probed the most or who is sighted can be regarded as the most informed, enlightened and correct about the elephant, which symbolizes the reality or truth. The parable or metaphorical analogy implies that whilst a person’s subjective experience can be (asserted to be) true locally, such an experience is inherently circumscribed by its exclusion of the full(er) picture or context that accounts for other truths or a totality of truth.
More broadly speaking, “the parable has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies; … [it] has provided insight into the relativism, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behavior of experts in fields of contradicting theories, the need for deeper understanding, and respect for different perspectives on the same object of observation.” The parable thus demonstrates that it is wantonly irresponsible, peremptory, opinionated, disingenuous, vexatious or futile to continue to uphold such relativistic claims, statements or positions in the presence or service of partial truth, spurious claim, specious argument, fallacious thinking, fragmentary understanding, insular outlook, parochial attitude, hidebound culture, blinkered faction or bigoted practice, to the extent that anything can (seem to) be defensible or justifiable when people wilfully engage in any sort of reasoning or activity driven by subjective biases, misguided views, faulty beliefs or defective methodologies, as though, or especially when, they believe or demand that their opinions or claims, however unsound, problematic, misleading, erroneous, mistaken, prejudiced, irrational or unjustifiable, are entitled to be treated (more or less) on par with natural law, objective reality, verified knowledge, empirical facts or even absolute truths.
Unfortunately, far too many people have come to rely on such inane quotations or fatuous statements as “I’m entitled to my opinion.”, “Let’s agree to disagree.”, “My choice, not yours.”, “That’s your choice.”, “Each to their own.”, “It’s all subjective.”, “There is no right or wrong.”, “It’s just (a matter of) opinion or cultural difference.”, “Everyone is different.”, “Everyone is equal.” and “Everybody or anybody is entitled to their choices, opinions and views.” to provide them with certain kinds or degrees of refuge, comfort zone, defence mechanism or self-protectionism with which to justify whatever they do and think in life, so that they can paper over any deficiencies in their character or gaps in their knowledge, so that they can sidestep (the fear, discomfort or effort of) confronting difficult issues or making important decisions, so that they may (more easily) evade responsibility, reckoning, criticism, soul-searching, sacrifice or changing for the better, and so that they can circumvent facing up to their flaws, oversights, shortcomings, ignorance or the like, and thereby be spared from meeting the rigours of living an examined life and being a wiser person equipped with critical thinking and superior judgement. There are also those who, upon acquiring vast knowledge and becoming eminent experts, have divorced themselves from prudence and humility, becoming proud, boastful, conceited, vainglorious or egotistical, steadfastly believing their ideas, positions or perspectives to be foolproof, absolute, invincible or irrefutable, not realizing that they have been figuratively grasping just certain parts of the proverbial elephant and thus seeing only fragments of the full picture.