The Emperors’ New Clothes
I had originally prepared this fable to share at the August 20, 2013 council meeting, but the meeting ran late and I didn’t want to “waste” it if my audience was past listening. Lo and behold, today another local blogger referenced The Emperor’s New Clothes in relation to Chico city government. I find it interesting that I’m not the only one to draw this comparison.
The Emperors’ New Clothes (that would be plural, possessive)
Not so very long ago, there were some Emperors who were so excessively fond of new clothes and their perceived appearances, that they directed all resources towards that goal. They did not care in the least about their soldiers, nor their parks, nor their lands, except for the opportunity each afforded them to display their new clothes.
One day, three rogues came to town, pretending they were expert weavers and tailors. The men set up a loom and spread the news that they wove the finest of cloth, in the most beautiful designs and colors. But, said they, only a really wise man could see it; for to stupid, dull or foolish people it was completely invisible.
The Emperors said they must have suits of this marvelous cloth, and caused large sums of money to be given to the weavers in order that they might begin their work directly.
So the pretend weavers set up looms, and affected to work very busily, though in reality they did nothing at all. They asked for the most delicate silk and the purest gold thread; put both into their own knapsacks; and then continued their pretended work at the empty looms until late at night.
“I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth,” said the Emperors to themselves; they were, however, rather embarrassed, when they remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the fabric. To be sure, they thought they had nothing to risk; but yet, would prefer sending somebody else, to bring them intelligence about the weavers, and their work, before troubling themselves in the affair. People throughout the city had heard of the wonderful property the cloth was to possess; and all were anxious to learn how wise, or how ignorant, their Emperors might prove to be.
When an officer of the Emperors’ court reported that there was no fabric, he or she was called a fool and publicly beheaded. Other officers (who could see nothing on the loom, either, because of course there was nothing there to see), not wanting to be thought fools, praised the cloth, telling the Emperors that its gorgeous design would be sure to dazzle all who beheld it; and they were rewarded with new ranks and riches.
Soon the great Procession of the Year was to take place, and the rogues promised the Emperors that their new suits would be ready for the occasion.
The night before the Procession, the rogues worked late into the night making the royal costumes. They lit all the candles in the shop so that everyone could see they were hard at work. They snipped the empty air with scissors, they sewed with threadless needles, and at last they stood up and shook out the beautiful clothes that were not there.
In the morning the Emperors came to try on their suits. They stood straight and still while the rogues took away their clothes and put on the imaginary new ones. “Light as a spider’s web! What superb color!” said the rogues, and the attending courtiers echoed, “Superb! Superb!”
So the Emperors walked proudly under the royal canopy in the Procession. They were sure that their new clothes made them look magnificent, although they could not see them.
They bowed graciously to the left and right, as some people cried, “How splendid are the Emperors’ new clothes! How beautifully they fit! Such color, such rare and costly cloth!”
“But the Emperors have nothing on at all!” said a little child. And though she was hushed quickly, what the child had said was whispered from one to another.
“But they have nothing on at all!” at last cried out all the people. The Emperors were vexed, for they knew that the people were right; but they thought the procession must go on now! And the officers of the court took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.
(If you want to check out the other blog I mentioned in the intro, here’s the link: http://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/city-another-700000-in-the-hole-wow-thats-about-exactly-what-they-appropriated-for-the-new-management-salaries/)