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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.
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.