Perhaps the real story about the medical community is the corruption woven into the fabric of the health care network which saps our national pocketbook and deprives our population of real health care reform. This has proven to be not merely a story that no one could love. It is instead a story no one wanted to know. This is a story that in hindsight resembles “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It is easier to peddle a falsehood that everyone wanted to believe than the truth. In the classic 1837 fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson we can see portrayed the fantasy-desire for the kind of truth that can be revealed. The public did not really want to see governmental power and actions revealed transparently.
Author Hans Christian Anderson invests the child with the courage to challenge authority and to speak truth to power. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" The king is hoodwinked by weavers who claim to make a suit of clothes invisible to any man not the son of his presumed father so the king in his courtly pride and intellectual vanity refused to see the naked truth of the child’s revelation.
This traditional folktale was about criticizing the constitutional monarchy and its endemic disarray. The weavers' inventive description of beautiful invisible cloth had the power to topple a king by exposing the naked truth. The 'Emperor's new clothes' has become a standard metaphor for anything that smacks of pretentiousness, social hypocrisy, and collective denial.
With just such fantasy belief, those who listen to fabrications about our health care system are deceived by their own unwillingness to accept the truth. The persons who proffer these false beliefs are the health care insurance companies, big health care conglomerates, malpractice insurance providers and big corporate health care suppliers including huge transnational pharmaceutical companies. To those who blindly listen to such fabrications, the words are material and "true." They sell a particular idea of how to control health care and conceal a government secret so large that the truth cannot be exposed and therefore collective denial is chosen by the population.
But perhaps it is time to see the Emperor’s New Clothes for what they really are and now move forward with real health care reform rather than a bail out for the health care insurance industry and increased profits for huge medical corporations. We need health care reform which should include health care for all.
"But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.
The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.
The essential moral lesson in this timeless Danish fairy tale is that disgraceful revelation is finally resolved by an act of discovering, recovering, uncovering, and then covering up and proceeding forward. But the reality which was finally recognized as truth by the population could no longer be denied, no matter how difficult or embarrassing it was to face. The child's truth is mercifully free of adult corruption, and in the innocence of a child the terrifying possibility that whatever words we may use to clothe our fears, the fabric of our fantasies cannot protect us from the truth.
English translation by Jean Hersholt
Audio rendition by Sir Michael Redgrave
Robbins, Hollis (Autumn 2003). Emperor's New Critique. New Literary History. pp. 659-675. ISSN 0028-6087. http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/new_literary_history/v034/34.4robbins.html