At this time of year, Western Consumer Society takes wings. Consumer goods fly off the shelves of stores and into the homes of families and friends, and we even succumb to the message that we should be treating ourselves to assorted gadgets and goodies.

     We have been taught, and it is reinforced constantly, that value rests in the physical plane: that *things* have the power to change our way of being; enhance our life; bring us joy.

     Paradoxical messages about the greater value of love and family and togetherness are present as well. We pay them lip service, then rush out to purchase a big boxes of material that will *show our love* when we present them. We feel a need to prove the existence of invisible attributes with objects and articles.

    How differently would we behave in the world if we placed Value and Worth on the things we cannot see? If our socialization process had been a little different, then maybe would be aware that the building we call a school represents only a fraction of the value of happens inside. We cannot fill a box with learning, or weigh out chunks of education or put ribbons around understanding arithmetic.

     We feel the heft of a book in our hand, and forget that as an object it is merely a small representation of the inspiration and wisdom which can be gained by reading it. We have forgotten the significance of the Unseen. 

     What if we refocused the stories we tell about Value? What if we were more aligned with the scientific truth that most of the Universe is not physical? Maybe then we could approach this season from a new angle.

     We could start by retelling the stories we received when we were being conditioned, the tales that were designed to predispose us to fit neatly into the world of consumption.


The Monarch’s New Robe

     Once Upon a Time there was a Wise Monarch who understood the value of all things and shared this wisdom with the people of the nation.

     Everyone across the land valued the important aspects of life, and they did not preoccupy themselves with trifles.

     One day a Stranger arrived from another place. Not having had the opportunity to learn the ways of the Wise Monarch, the Stranger observed the population and found them difficult to understand. They appeared ripe for exploitation.

     Approaching the Monarch, the Stranger offered to create an outfit of immeasurable beauty and value.

     The outfit, said the Stranger, would permit the Monarch to display discernment and wealth and importance. There came also a caveat; that whosoever could not perceive the outfit, was, in fact, unfit for a place in society.


     The Wise Monarch, knowing the ways of Strangers and trusting the population, agreed to the plan and was at once measured for the new costume.

     For days the Stranger toiled at a loom, and described in great detail the pattern and the fabric.

     For weeks the Stranger wielded scissors and spoke about the textile. Presentations were held, explaining the style and the cut of the suit being created. For months the Stranger hunched over a needle, and told those who brought food and service that inability to appreciate the cloth revealed reprehensible ignorance. The people nodded and smiled, and went about their business.

     Finally the Stranger claimed to have completed the outfit, just in time for the Monarch’s appearance at the Annual Festival.

     The Stranger arranged the new outfit on The Monarch’s body, fussing and flapping, and reminding whoever would listen that failure to appreciate the fine clothing was a certain indication of ignorance and posturing.

     Then the Monarch was finally dressed, and stepped out to greet the cheering crowds, and a hush fell about the population.

     The Stranger, replete from weeks of fine-dining and care-filled hospitality, a pocket filled with financial gain, listened from the doorway while preparing for escape.

     A child said “The Monarch is surely naked!” and the hush was broken with a rumbling murmur, as everyone spoke at once.

      “No!” they said, “Not naked.”

     And wisely they explained, for the children, and for the Stranger too.

     “The Monarch is clothed in the most valuable raiment: The Monarch is covered with humility and bodily equality, embroidered with the pattern that is Nothing-To-Hide.

     “Manifestly no better and no worse than the people of the country, the Monarch is cloaked in unwillingness to kill the ermine; a more noble garment cannot exist.

     “There is dignity which is finer than any silk; and self-respect more tightly woven than satin.

     “The Monarch has distinction thicker than velvet, and is plush with self-esteem.”

     The Stranger, without another plan, went away from the land ruled by the Wise Monarch, and never forgot the lessons: there is no glory in deception and there is Great Value in Things Unseen.


Story © Jo Leath 2003