Speak Truth to Power

My very favorite Hans Christian Andersen Fairy tale is The Emperor’s New Clothes. I am certain you know the story. If not, I’ll give you the synopsis.

Two weavers promise the emperor, a vain and silly man, a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. In actuality they are scamming the emperor and not making anything at all and just pretend to give the emperor new clothes. As they pretend to put these beautiful new clothes on the man they tell how great he looks in them.

The Emperor doesn’t see anything, but does not want to admit that for then it will prove he is an idiot. He goes out to parade his new suit of clothes amongst his subjects, no one dares say they don’t see any clothes and then be considered stupid. Finally a child speaks the truth and screams out, “He is not wearing anything at all.”

My favorite take away from this is that people need to trust their own eyes and speak up, for not doing so makes you look stupid. I am thankful this week for General James Mattis for playing the role of the child and screaming out that the emperor has no clothes. Then for John Kelly for saying Mattis is right.

We don’t have an emperor is this country and we can’t let our elected leaders act as if they are emperors. People need not be bullied into not speaking out on what they know is wrong, because they are afraid for seeming stupid or bringing down the ire from someone above them. Instead people need to speak out for fear of what not speaking out says about them and because it is the right thing to do.

Now is the time to say the emperor has no clothes. Trust your own intuition on right and wrong and do right. No one wants to be a sheep like the grown ups in the fairy tale. No one wants to be on the wrong side of history. General Mattis is opening the door for people to follow him and speak truth to power.



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