I love “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
Do you remember that story by Hans Christian Anderson? It was one of my favorites as a child. Here is a link to it in case you want to read it. The Emperor’s New Clothes
To give you a brief synopsis, it is the story of an emperor who cared more about his fine wardrobe than the more important parts of his position.
A couple of con artists come to town and they say they are weavers of the finest cloth. A very special cloth that can’t be seen by those unworthy of their position or fools.
The Emperor hires them immediately to make him a new outfit of this fine cloth and pays them a large sum of money. He’s excited. He’ll be able to better assess the worthiness of those around him by their reactions to his new clothes.
The weavers (con men) set up shop with looms, and keep ordering the finest silks and gold thread, which they stash away for their own use. The looms remain empty.
They ask for more money, more silk, and more gold thread. It’s understandable that making such fine cloth would be expensive and require top notch supplies.
The Emperor sends his advisors to check things out along the way, but all are scared to admit they see nothing. They give glowing reports of the quality of the fabric, and describe the colors and patterns if the fabric they supposedly saw on the empty looms.
The big day arrives when the “weavers” say the clothes are done, and the town is abuzz. They all get ready to see the Emperor in his new finery as it makes its debut.
The con men carefully “dress” the Emperor, everyone ooohhing and aaaahhing along the way. Once “dressed”, the Emperor looks in the mirror and admires the fit and finery that he has been hearing about. So many great minds couldn’t be wrong, right? A procession through town begins to show off to the people.
All gathered along the Emperor’s route act as though they see the magnificence created by the genius weavers. The emperor is proud.
But then there’s a little boy.
“He’s naked,” the child said.
The child’s father tries to cover for his bluntness, but the child’s words still pass through the village.
“The child says he’s not wearing anything,” they said.
The Emperor hears the buzz. He suspects they are right. But he proceeds on, acting even more regally and standing a bit taller. His nobleman follow and continue their support.
What happens next? The story ends. But looking at life, we probably have some ideas. I suspect there could be many endings, depending on who you are.
I remember hearing this story as a child and never understanding why the people didn’t tell the truth. I understand human nature a bit more now, so unfortunately I understand. But on the other hand, I don’t.
Those people around you who act like they know it all? Those politicians and CEOs and management types who act as though they were blessed with unusual wisdom? Those people who claim to see some superpowers in people that you don’t see? Those people who doubt the special in you and make you feel less than?
Maybe they’re pretending to see something that’s not there, so they can keep their lofty position or appear wise in the eyes of those around them. Maybe they’re buying the goods of the con men (or women) and letting them control who they are. Maybe they’re really fools.
Who is your Emperor and what are they wearing? Are you going to tell them outright, be more subtle, or agree that their clothes are the finest you have ever seen?
I love Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, because this tale written long ago and far away gives us great truths that can help us decide who we will be even today.
“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” – Mark Twain