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Do you remember the story of the emperor’s clothes? If I am recalling it right, someone persuaded the emperor to buy a suit of clothes that only people with the most exquisite taste in fashion could see. Of course, the emperor could not see the clothes, nor could anyone else – because the peddler was lying. There were no clothes to be seen. But no one would say so, not even the emperor! Why not? Because no one wanted to admit that they couldn’t see the clothes the emperor had spent a fortune buying.


Of course, the emperor wanted to show off his new clothes. So a parade was arranged. And there, on the street, with thousands of onlookers, the emperor rode along, completely exposed. But, knowing that they themselves would be exposed as having less than refined taste, the people wouldn’t speak up and tell the truth. The emperor was out in public in the raw! And no one would say it…except a little boy in the crowd. And, of course, he blasted out the facts: The emperor has no clothes!


It’s a child’s tale, to be sure, but it exposes – if I may use that word – some very grown-up truths. Vanity leads to self-deception, and fear of those with power over us causes us to collude in their despotism by flattering them. In other words, we all have a tendency to live a lie.

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