I must admit that when I was young I read less than most of the kids. (maybe it’s because I first learned how to do math and reading came about 3 years later)
But even so I already had a few favorites books. And I can remember them even 25 years later.
One of those books is called The Emperor’s New Clothes and it was written by Hans Christian Andersen.
For those of you who don’t know the story, here is the summary from Wikipedia:
A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothes themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions, and the Emperor does the same. Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him, and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all, and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor suspects the assertion is true but continues the procession.
I don’t know why Hans Christian Andersen wrote this and what was the social situation then. But I can see a lot of similarities these days.
Growing up I always knew it never was a good idea to directly express what I thought. Even though it was true.
Honesty is appreciated only when people agree with you. If your opinion is contrary with their beliefs, you’re gonna have a bad time. Even though you are right. People don’t want the truth, people want comfortable lies that reinforce their opinions and their way of living.
I think in life you have moments when you like having popular opinions, but I also believe that as you get older you just don’t care that much about other people feelings.
And in a way I always liked being the one backing up unpopular opinions if they were true.
But for must people it is really hard to tell that “the emperor has no clothes”, even if they see it with their eyes. They don’t want to offend their friends, or their colleagues, or their managers. They just want to be accepted, be part of the crowd.
I think we need more kids calling bullshit when they see it.
And don’t get me started with diplomacy. An apple is an apple, even if you call it apple or malus domestica.