In Hans Christian Andersen’s legendary tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, a vain emperor is made the fool by two scheming tailors who play on the emperor’s vanity and sell him a suit of invisible cloth. The tailors claim only those “worthy” souls can see the cloth, hence binding the emperor and his most loyal followers into a pact of lying first to themselves (“Oh, yes. I must be worthy. I shall say I see the suit.”) and then to each other (“I can see it! I can see it!”).
The story reaches its climax when a little boy yells out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
The Emperor’s New Clothes was first published in 1837. More than 165 years later, it’s message still informs our lives.
Who are you in the story?
Are you the emperor asking for any news that validates your self belief?
Are you the tailor selling lies to those eager to believe their own delusions?
Are you the courtier desperate to belong and willing to go along to get along?
Are you the child pointing at the truth?
Perhaps you are the child’s mother who shushes him and thus kills the truth (while calling it an act of love)?
You know who you are.
The next question is: Who do you want to be?