The country of the blind

There is a well known saying, “In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.”  But is it true?  What if there were a country where all the people were blind but had learned to cope with their condition and considered it normal?  How would they respond if someone who could see came into their community and told them what it was like to see?  Would they believe what he said or consider him a madman?

H. G. Wells wrote a story called “The Country of the Blind” which describes this situation.  Here is Wikipedia’s summary of the plot.

While attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl, a fictitious mountain in Ecuador, a mountaineer named Nunez slips and falls down the far side of the mountain. At the end of his descent, down a snow-slope in the mountain’s shadow, he finds a valley, cut off from the rest of the world on all sides by steep precipices. Unbeknown to Nunez, he has discovered the fabled Country of the Blind. The valley had been a haven for settlers fleeing the tyranny of Spanish rulers until an earthquake reshaped the surrounding mountains and cut it off forever from future explorers. The isolated community prospered over the years despite a disease that struck them early on, rendering all new-borns blind. As the blindness slowly spread over the generations, their remaining senses sharpened, and by the time the last sighted villager had died, the community had fully adapted to life without sight.

Nunez descends into the valley and finds an unusual village with windowless houses and a network of paths, all bordered by curbs. Upon discovering that everyone is blind, Nunez begins reciting to himself the refrain, “In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King”. He realizes that he can teach and rule them, but the villagers have no concept of sight and do not understand his attempts to explain this fifth sense to them. Frustrated, Nunez becomes angry but they calm him and he reluctantly submits to their way of life because returning to the outside world is impossible.

Nunez is assigned to work for a villager named Yacob, and becomes attracted to Yacob’s youngest daughter, Medina-saroté. Nunez and Medina-saroté soon fall in love with one another, and having won her confidence, Nunez slowly starts trying to explain sight to her. Medina-saroté, however, simply dismisses it as his imagination. When Nunez asks for her hand in marriage he is turned down by the village elders on account of his “unstable” obsession with “sight”. The village doctor suggests that Nunez’s eyes be removed, claiming that they are diseased and are affecting his brain. Nunez reluctantly consents to the operation because of his love for Medina-saroté. But at sunrise on the day of the operation, while all the villagers are asleep, Nunez, the failed King of the Blind, sets off for the mountains (without provisions or equipment), hoping to find a passage to the outside world and escape the valley.

In the original story, he escapes the valley but becomes trapped in the mountains, which ultimately leads to his death. In the revised and expanded 1939 version of the story Nunez sees from a distance that there is about to be a rock slide. He attempts to warn the villagers, but again they scoff at his “imagined” sight. He takes Medina-saroté and flees the valley during the slide.

This story is fiction but it can be read as an allegory describing the world we live in.

We live in a country of the blind but the blindness is spiritual, not physical.  All of us have some knowledge of right and wrong but we have all sinned by failing to full live up to what we know is right.  Our sins have separated us from God and placed us under the power of Satan.  Because of this Satan is able to blind us so that we become incapable of knowing the truth.

If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Like the fictional country we have been visited by someone from outside our world who wasn’t blind.  Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal to us that there was more to reality than what we can perceive with out senses and most people rejected his message.

But there is one way in which the story doesn’t reflect reality.  Nunez could tell the people they were blind and describe what the world was really like but he couldn’t give them the ability to see.  Jesus not only reveals to us the fact that we are spiritually blind but he can also heal our blindness.

If you read the gospels you will find that while Jesus was on earth he opened the eyes of those who were physically blind.  But he also did something much more important.  He made a way for our spiritual blindness to be removed.

Since our blindness is the result of sin the only cure for it is for our sins to be forgiven.  God’s justice requires that all sin be punished so the only way we can be forgiven is for someone else to take the punishment we deserve.  That is what Jesus did when he was crucified.

I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Whoever repents of his sins and puts his faith in Jesus has his sins forgiven.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Ephesians 1:7

One result of that salvation is that the veil placed over his eyes by Satan is removed and he can see spiritual truths that were invisible to him before.

When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
2 Corinthians 3:16

Posted on February 5, 2013, in salvation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The country of the blind.

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