I would like to relate a variation of an old Hindu fable about the blind men and the elephant.

There were several blind men standing around an elephant and wondering what it was. Since no one could see the elephant, each blind man had to describe through touch what they felt an elephant was like.

The blind man holding on to one of the elephants legs stated, “An elephant is obviously a large tree as it is tall and my arm cannot go around it.” The blind man holding on to the trunk said, “An elephant is like a big snake, just like an anaconda.” The blind man holding on to the tail disagreed and stated, “Obviously, the elephant is a small snake, just like a cobra.”

The blind man on top of the elephant was very angry, as he felt the elephant was “as large as a mountain.” The blind man who held the elephant’s sharp tusks yelled out, “You are all wrong, the elephant is like a spear, long and sharp.”

The blind man holding the elephant’s ear was also getting very upset as he angrily stated, “Every one one of you is wrong, the elephant is like a large flag waving in the breeze.” And then we have the blind man who was standing in the shade of elephant’s back end when suddenly a rapid inundation flowed forcing him to the ground. Good manners prevents a direct a quotation of his observation of what an elephant was.

The moral of this story is that none of the blind men had the ability to stand back and truly see what they were describing, and the poor soul under the rear end of the elephant ended up suffering a very unpleasant experience.

There are some similarities to this fable and the Columbia River Crossing bridge project in Portland, and the near miss of taxpayers having to scrub off some very unpleasant residue.

JIM SANTEE

Astoria

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