One day Nasruddin was on his hands and knees when a friend came by who asked, “Nasruddin, what are you looking for?” Nasruddin smiled at his friend and said, “My keys.” The friend joined Nasruddin and searched for a while but after finding nothing, turned to Nasruddin and asked, “Where did you lose your keys?” “In my house,” answered Nasruddin. “Then why are you out here on the street if you lost your keys in the house?” Nasruddin answered, “There’s more light out here on the street.”
This s a beloved tale. Wickedly wise. I have told it many times and it never fails simultaneously to delight and confound audiences. Some people love it immediately while others scratch their heads in consternation if not, in a few cases, irritation. I'm especially fond of telling this story in university settings where the conceits of dominant (if not hegemonic) practices of knowledge-making are so deeply fortified. I've often thought of telling this tale in the contexts of organizational change work that i've done for many non-profits and social justice groups but i am more careful. Universities, as sites of hegemonic power don't deserve much sympathy. And, as much as i have often felt like applying this story in community-based contexts, i am not usually contracted to wage my philosophies against the various conceits and received understandings of organizations that see themselves as resisting dominant and unjust uses of power.
This story also reminds me of a delightful episode of the Spanish animation Pocoyo - translated into English and narrated by the wonderful Stephen Fry: