Lessons from Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales

Lessons from Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales: Part 12 The Emperor’s New Clothes

I am sure most of you know this classic fairytale where two weavers promise the Emperor a new set of clothes that they maintain are invisible to only those who are incompetent or stupid. In reality they are weaving no clothes at all, making everyone, including the Emperor, believe (or say they believe) the clothes are invisible to them.

This is a story in which no one actually believes, but everyone believes that everyone else believes something to be true. And so each character changes their perception to match that of the dominant group in order to fit it. Everyone goes along with the pretence of seeing the suit, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a young child calls out that the emperor is, in fact, wearing nothing at all.

The morals of this classic tale have been debated and discussed over the centuries, raising questions about self-deception, conformity and obedience to authority. So much so that the phrase “emperor’s new clothes” has become an idiom about logical fallacies and a metaphor for anything that implies ostentatiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy, pluralistic ignorance or collective denial.

My take on this story is first of all, a big shout out to the young child for his bravery in speaking his truth.
It was made clear that only those who were not stupid or inept could see the suit and yet, he spoke out, regardless of the consequence or what others may think of him.
He spoke out even though it was not the popular or prevailing opinion of the majority.

This takes courage.

We can all learn a lot from this young child.
We need to ask ourselves whether, when all around are silent, continuing down a path we know is not right, we will speak up?
When speaking out means disagreeing with those in authority, will we speak our truth?
Even if the consequences are dire, will we speak out?

As responsible members of society, it is our duty to speak up if something doesn’t look right, irrespective of the consequences to ourselves.
We need to harness the courage of that little boy.
We need to speak up for the truth and what is right.

Without honesty, people can end up looking very foolish.