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Dharan Diaries - 20210829

Why don't these horses in gold mine can't see or run?

True Story and its Lessons

I read this true story a long time ago. A Western author goes to Africa to research for his novel and visits a gold mine. Workers (and visitors) are lowered to the mine level by a manual pully attached to a rattan plate. The author also goes down. He sees lots of workers cutting stones, almost in the pitch dark. Suddenly, he notices ponies! They carry the cut rocks to the pully area, where those are taken up, again through the rattan plate.

In the evening, when people are leaving, the author has a question: What about the ponies? How will they sit on the plate?

People laugh and explain that the ponies will be in the gold mine until the workers return the following day.

The author has another question: What about the first time? How were the ponies brought down to this level?

Then they explain: These ponies come down when they are little, legs tied. Then they grow up inside the mine. Since it's dark in here, they lose their eyesight within a few months. They are blinded for life. They neither run nor neigh. All they do is eat, carry the load, and wait for the next day to repeat. When one of them dies, it is cut into pieces for meat and taken up.


I think I read this in the early 80s, and the incident happened probably in the 70s. I'm sure the situation has changed for the better for all concerned.


I remember this story for its two conceptual insights.

Firstly, if we are trying to help someone (either verbally or through action) and if the person cannot appreciate our intention or even turns against us for the same, we need to sympathize. It could be a case of a pony in a gold mine. It is not just the reaction but also the context and milieu from which it emerges matter.

Secondly, when we feel someone's advice or act so out of place, we could double-check whether our understanding of the situation is like that of a pony in a gold mine. It would help to peep out and see if there is another perspective.


I made a short video to explain and share. Watch above or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umXmNNqqjdA



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