The Emperor’s New Clothes

You have probably read the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” but if you haven’t it is a tale of an emperor who asks his tailors to make the finest clothes out of the finest cloth. Never satisfied with the attire, the tailor finally makes “invisible clothing” and the emperor walks around naked believing he is wearing the most amazing clothing. Everyone of course notices but fears saying anything because he is the king. In the end it is a child who is unafraid to say the obvious.

Whenever something that we hold to be true is challenged it creates a situation in our minds called cognitive dissonance. No matter how compelling the evidence, we have an incredibly hard time accepting that what we believed to be true is now incorrect or flawed. In response, one creates excuses to justify the belief even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is incorrect. Challenging our beliefs and taking actions to make improvements is the very work we do in a zero waste lifestyle.

As we have dialogues, face-to-face and online, with our families, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers over the various happenings in our world, it seems crucial to remember that it is easy to believe something that is already in line with your current beliefs. Surrounding yourself with people who share your convictions creates an echo chamber of thought and belief. Our work (and this work is so desperately needed) is to have conversations with others who do not share our beliefs. To view the other person as an equal and treat them with dignity and respect, even if that is not how you are treated in return, is the only way to end the cycle of hate and resentment that is currently filling our news feeds. Returning such disrespectful and undignified treatment in kind fuels the anger and resentment one may feel towards the beliefs you hold. Instead of being viewed as an equal deserving dignified treatment, you are reduced to a derogatory word and all of your anger-fueled reactions become an excuse to further ostracize, marginalize, or worse.

The burden is on each of us to explain respectfully and rationally why we may or may not want to build a wall, a pipeline, a helicopter, a school, a bomb, a genetically enhanced human, deregulate the EPA, repeal the Affordable Care Act, repeal the DARK Act, immigration, refugees, NAFTA, TPP, taxes, gun regulation, abortion, and on and on.

When a person is marginalized and ostracized because of their political views it is no different than being oppressed due to race, religion, sexual orientation, etc… When a person is imprisoned or killed because of these beliefs it only creates more anger, fear, and resentment.

I ask myself what kind of world do I want to live in and are my actions and interactions supporting that world? In the short term it may feel better and it may seem faster to use angry words and violent acts to gain advantage but this victory, if it can be called a victory at all, will be short lived and will not last. Every single empire that has been conceived and won by violence has fallen. Watching the lack of dialogue and lines being drawn as though someone is either for or against something and there is no possible room for another view or compromise is disturbing. How quickly this turns into violent conflict, how quickly it leads to widows and orphans, how quickly it leads to martial law, curfews, and disappearances is unknown. But that is the path this kind of action forges. Being firm in your convictions is one thing, being dogmatic about them is another, especially when dogma is violently forced upon others. It is necessary to be noncooperative with an unjust action or policy, to resist it in a firm but dignified manner, and to not accept it even if it means harm may be done to me.

May my daily actions and interactions sow seeds of peace and harmony.

Thank you for reading,





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