Once upon a time an Emperor had only one ambition: to be the best dressed man in his empire, and spent all of his money on new clothes. He had a different coat for every hour of the day!

Two men came to the Emperor’s city, telling people that they were weavers of the finest cloth imaginable and master tailors. Not only were their colours and patterns the most beautiful in the world, they claimed, but the material was also invisible to any person who was stupid or unfit for office.

The Emperor was smitten. Not only did he pay a fortune to the two, he also provided them with the finest silk and precious gold thread, and they set to work. They appeared to labour for long hours over the two looms they set up. Whatever they asked for they received.

At last the weavers announced that the fabric was complete and asked the Emperor in for a fitting. He and all his courtiers went to see the beautiful fabric that was only visible to the wise and the just.

He and his attendants looked and looked, and could see nothing. Not wanting to appear stupid or unfit they agreed that it was the most beautiful fabric they had ever seen. “It is magnificent!” they said, and advised him to have a most excellent suit made from this magnificent fabric for the upcoming procession and celebration.

For weeks and weeks the two worked, measuring the Emperor, cutting a pattern, cutting the cloth and then sewing the masterpiece together. Finally the suit was finished and the Emperor was called in for one last fitting before the procession. The Emperor stood before a mirror, admiring his new suit from every angle as the weavers-tailors adjusted his miracle suit that he was still unable to see.

Still not wanting to appear stupid or unfit, the Emperor proudly wore his new suit as he marched at the head of the procession. Everyone else, who also wished to appear wise and just, proclaimed the suit to be the best they had ever seen, anywhere, anytime.

Finally a child who was watching the parade from an upper window called out to his friend across the street: “Look!” he laughed, “The Emperor has no clothes on!” The laughter was taken up by the townsfolk but the Emperor, even though he thought they might be right, continued with the charade right until the end of the procession.

On Father’s Day I wrote a spirited message to an elderly friend who had gone out of his way to assist me when others had evaporated into thin air. My message ended: “Thank you for looking down at me, in order to lift me up!”

Came the wry response, “somebody has just called me a white racist”.

“Not to worry my friend, this dude is wearing An Emperor’s Suit that Wouldn’t Fit; even a child could see the nudity”, was my exasperated and disgusted retort.

Indeed, if we apportion the notion of our own superiority upon others, if we accost people with insults that are demeaning, unconstitutional and globally discredited, we swindle our own selves of dignity. Intra and inter disability discrimination (and racism) should be demolished with proverbial sledgehammers so that a unified front can be forged to confront challenges that affect us all.

Take heed, ladies and gentlemen, lest we became unpardonably stupid, and that innocent child of history must chide us for donning An Emperor’s Suit!

ri-dot