We all know the story of the naked Emperor whom everybody applauded for the magnificent new clothes he was not wearing until finally a brave boy from the crowd shouted, ‘He’s got nothing on!’, and the Emperor became a laughing stock. Up to now I have always identified myself with the crowd, thinking that, being well-clad, I surely am not a laughing stock. Today, I first thought that I may also be naked (in part or in full) without realizing it and I was terrified that I may also be a laughing stock totally and utterly! Why is that so? It’s because shame is shame by its very nature, and nothing and nobody can turn it into glory whatever efforts they make to disguise it or refine it. What I want to say is that the Emperor was an object of shame all the time – not only after the boy gave publicity to the fact.
My using such outrageous comparisons when talking about nakedness is not accidental. I am doing it because I think the way we understand it and demonstrate it (or not), reveals something basic about our real nature. Why do I think so?
Let me use an illustration to answer this question. If someone takes off all his clothes and becomes fully naked but is also dirty,what will we say about him? Most of us will say that he is insane. What will we say if the naked person washes all his dirt but remains naked? Will we say that he is normal? Most of us won’t. Why? Don’t we all agree that nakedness is the most natural thing in the world? Aren’t we born naked and don’t we go into the bathroom naked?! Yes, we do, but we all know too well that soon after that we have to get dressed or else we run the risk to suffer damage or bad health. The only situation in which nakedness is natural when we are not alone, is the sexual act of which we all dream to be an expression of a unique relationship between two people who separate themselves from all the others to connect inspirit, soul and body and become one whole, thus making themselves alone, which puts them in the category of those that are born naked or go into the bathroom naked.
Why, however, does the person who is not ashamed of showing his nakedness to the others bring shame upon himself instead of glory?Because of the effects. If he is dirty or ill or defective, and this is revealed by his nakedness, the others would feel embarrassed, disgusted, threatened or otherwise disturbed. As a result, they won’t want to communicate with him and will alienate themselves and finally separate from him. If the naked person is healthy and handsome and in perfect shape, the others might feel ugly, humiliated, sexually aroused or otherwise perturbed. The result is again unwillingness to communicate, alienation and separation. And this is not good for anyone because love, in all its forms (including the sexual act) is impossible without us joining and sharing what we are and what we have.
Full nakedness, however, is very rare in public places. What is much more common is partial or ‘covered’ nakedness in the form of low necklines, drop waist pants, short skirts, transparent blouses and underwear instead of clothing. Would we say that nakedness, when not full, is quite acceptable? We would if the person, who is showing parts of his or her body which are not customary to be shown, is acting with the purest and noblest of motives, having no desire to arouse, seduce or humiliate the others. Honesty says that when someone starts doing something, he has to finish it, and if he can’t finish it, he shouldn’t start it at all.
Must we cover ourselves from head to toe in order tobe dressed properly? I have my answer to this question but I believe it’s up to everyone to decide what to cover and what not, as God has given us the freedom to make our own choices, bearing the respective consequences of them: shame orglory depending on what we have chosen to do.
In the end, I would like to answer my first question,‘Is the Emperor naked or dressed’? Obviously, he is naked and because he is naked, he is no longer an Emperor, for what makes an Emperor look like an Emperor but his clothes?!