Of sheep, Second Handers and Bruegel the Elder

The Parabole of the blind following the blindTalking to my friend about “The Fountainhead” and the “Moutons de Panurge” -two stories with the same basic philosophy about the roles than men play in being either creators or followers- my mind was shuffling through thoughts trying to find a third reference in the work of the Belgian artist Pieter Bruegel (The Elder) and one of his famous paintings, -whose title was in the tip of my tongue-

Now, after easing the urge of my curiosity through research, I can say confidently that the title is “The parable of the blind leading the blind”

The comparison follows:

Brueger The Elder depicted the biblical passage: Matthew 15:14: ‘They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.’

He made “The parabole of the blind leading the blind” in 1568, the renaissance era. In the illustration we can see six blind men following a blind leader, who has fallen into a ditch. The expressions in the faces reveal an increasing sense of anguish from the one who suspects that something terrible is about to happen through the last one, who walks naively and without hesitation to his dreadful -but chosen- fate.

Bruegel, a religious man and a stern moralist tries to explain how many men would rather follow a path already traced by others -because it requires no effort and no thinking- rather than taking the risk of walking The Right Path on their own.

In the same philosophy, Ayn Rand ( author of the “The Fountainhead”) radically divides the world in two types of people: “creators” and “second handers” creators being the ones who lead every major change in human history, and the second handers, the ones who criticized them, judged and sacrificed them, but their lives were significantly improved by those whom they martyred.

“It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature-and the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning-and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls.” -Ayn Rand-

In our third example, The “Moutons de Panurge” a classic philosophical tale of French renaissance philosophy, taken from the work of François Rabelais (Gargantua and Pantagruel) a man named Panurge took a boat and went to the country of Lanternes. On the boat, he meet a sheep dealer who had a flock of sheep with him. Panurge bought one of the sheep at a very high price and threw it into the sea. All the other sheep followed and threw themselves into the water, while the dealer tried hopelessly to hold them back.

Three different ways to illustrate the tendency to follow another’s lead, or conventionalisms, rather than taking the risk to be yourself and march to the rhythm of your own drums…do you dare to play those drums today? 😉

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