Recently, I stumbled on an old folk tale which I had last read as a child. And just as it did then, it made me guffaw very long and hard. It is the story of the king who danced gustily – and very naked – before an entire kingdom. After laughing this time however, I began drawing salient insights from the hilarious story!Well, sharing the entirety of those insights in this one piece might be impossible for want of space. So, I’ll be sharing what little I can. But for those not too familiar with the story, here’s a crash run of the finer points: Many years ago lived this emperor who had such deep love for beautiful new clothes so much so that he spent all his money on being finely dressed. He cared nothing for reviewing his soldiers, attending to state duties or any such important stuff. A perfect day for him would entail going to the theatre or riding about in his carriage where he could show off his new clothes. In fact, he had a different costume for every hour of every day. So, on this particular day, two swindlers come into the emperor’s city. They say they are weavers, and that they know how to make the finest cloth imaginable. Not only are the colours and the patterns extraordinarily beautiful, the material to be used have the amazing property that it is to be invisible to anyone who is incompetent or stupid. Aha! Well, the emperor begins to think, “It would be wonderful to have clothes made from that material. Then I would know which of my men are unfit for their positions, and I’d also be able to tell clever people from stupid ones.” So he immediately gives the two swindlers a great sum of money to weave their cloth for him. The weavers set up their looms and pretend to go to work, but of course there is nothing at all on the looms. They ask for the finest silk and the purest gold, all of which they hide away, continuing to work on the empty looms, often late into the night. After a while, the emperor is eager to know how they are coming along with the cloth. But you see, he is a bit uneasy because he recalls that anyone who is unfit for his position or stupid will not be able to see the material. Of course, he himself has nothing to fear. After all, he is the king. So he tells himself. So he decides to send someone else to see how the work is progressing. Why else is he the king, right? He sends his HONEST old minister because he deems no one else to be as sensible and worthy of his position than the old minister – and of course, that’s save for himself, the great emperor. So our good old minister goes into the hall where the two swindlers sit working at their empty looms. “Goodness!” thinks the old minister, opening his eyes wide. “I cannot see a thing!” But he does not say so. The two swindlers invite him to step closer. “Isn’t it a beautiful design? Aren’t the colours magnificent?” they ask him as they gush. They point to the empty loom, and the poor old minister opens his eyes wider and wider. Still, he sees nothing because there is nothing there. “Gracious” he thinks. “Is it possible that I am stupid? I have never thought so. Am I unfit for my position? No one must know this. No, it will never do for me to say that I was unable to see the material.” “Oh, it is magnificent! The very best!” says the old minister, peering through his glasses. “This pattern and these colours! Yes, I’ll tell the emperor that I am very satisfied with it!” The weavers are very happy as they call the ‘colours’ and ‘unusual patterns’ by name. The HONEST old minister listens attentively so he will be able say the exact same things when he reports back to the emperor. This he does the moment he is before the emperor. Later, the king decides to send other officials to check up on the weavers’ progress. Just like the old minister before them, they are startled to see nothing, but since they are not stupid and unfit for their positions, they come back with reports of how grand the weave is. They even advise the emperor to have it made into clothes to be worn on a grand procession. What better way to make it abundantly clear they are not stupid. Soon enough, the entire city is alive in praise of the cloth. “Magnificient! Excellent!” they say and for the ‘ingenious’ weavery, the emperor awards the swindlers with medals of honour, bestowing on each of them the title, Lord Weaver. On the night before the day the procession is to take place, the swindlers stay up the entire night burning candles. Everyone can see that they are in a great rush to finish the emperor’s new clothes. They pretend to take the material from the looms. They cut in the air with large scissors. They sow with needles but without any thread. Finally they announce, “Behold! The clothes are finished!” Morning is here and the emperor comes to them with his most distinguished advisers. The two swindlers raise their arms as though they are holding something and say, “Just look at these trousers! Here is the jacket! This is the cloak! Bla bla bla…they are as light as spider webs…bla bla bla… you might think that you didn’t have a thing on, but that is the good thing about them…bla bla bla…” The king turns to his advisers and they smile quickly and nod in agreement even though they can’t see a thing. So, at the prompting of the swindlers, the emperor takes off all his clothes, and the swindlers pretend to dress him, piece by piece. They take hold of his waist and pretend to tie something about him. They say it is the train. The emperor turns, looks into the mirror and sees he is actually butt-naked. He is shocked but hey, he is the king, very fitting of his throne and definitely not stupid. So he gives a satisfactory grin and turns to his advisers who clap appreciatively. The grandmaster of ceremonies then announces that he procession is set to begin, and the chamberlains who are to carry the train hold their hands just above the floor as though they are picking up the train. As they walk, they pretend to hold the train high; for they cannot let anyone notice they can see nothing. The emperor dances beneath the beautiful canopy in the procession, and all the people in the street and in their windows shout, “Goodness, the emperor’s new clothes are incomparable! What a beautiful train on his jacket. What a perfect fit!” Yes, everyone in the empire is fitting of his position and there is none stupid in all the land. And then a child says, “But he doesn’t have anything on!”
Suddenly, “Good Lord, let us hear the voice of an innocent child!” the father of the child says, and whispers to another his child’s words. This soon begins to pass through the crowd and soon everyone is saying, “He doesn’t have anything on!” At this point, the emperor shudders, for he knows they are right, but he thinks, “The procession must go on!” So, he carries himself even more proudly, the chamberlains walk along behind carrying the train that isn’t there, and the entire empire is treated to a long and embarrassing spectacle of the king’s privates. Wrongs of the past which have today become staples of normal life would certainly have gone through the same process as in the story above !
Which of the characters in this gist best describe you?