You simply can’t handle the truth

Katie Finlon

I’d like to start with a fable of sorts:

Once upon a time, there was a fabulously wealthy emperor who made his servant weavers make him a new robe every so often. The weavers didn’t want to make the emperor a new robe one day, so they decided to tell the emperor they made him a robe that is invisible to those who are too simple-minded to recognize the robe’s decadence.

So the emperor walked around the kingdom naked, you see. He was skeptical about whether or not he was actually wearing the cloak, but the weavers assured him it was the best they’ve ever created. Surely, the weavers said, a man of the emperor’s status could see a perfectly good cloak.

A little boy saw the emperor walking around without any clothes on, and, like most children, he pointed out the obvious by saying, “He’s not wearing anything at all!”

Terrified that the emperor may execute the child for speaking the truth, the civilians that witnessed this stared with horror. To their surprise, the emperor acknowledged the truth and rewarded the boy for saying what no one else in the kingdom would say.

For those who may recognize this tale, it is indeed the fable titled “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

No matter where I am in my life, this story has always applied to me. By the sound of it, it always will apply to me until I retire or die.

As you already know (I hope), I want to be a journalist when I grow up. Sure, I’d be OK with just reporting arts and entertainment, but at one point I want to cover stories with substance. Like Philip L. Graham, I want the experience of writing the first draft of history at least once.

I hope that, one day, I’ll have the opportunity to write about a public official being caught in a lie that involves an entire state or country of people. Or maybe I’d like to be the first to report on some CEO embezzling money and fleeing to Puerto Rico.

I want to investigate and search for the truth, merely because my fellow citizens deserve that, if nothing else.

It might be a somewhat romantic and idealistic vision of the journalist, I admit. It really is too bad that journalists who give off the sleazy impression ruin it for the rest of us. There’s obviously a difference between exposing the truth and borderline libel.

For me, this trend began when I was a kid. At one point, my father was trying to tell me to not do something. He could have been telling me that I can’t go to someone’s house or he could have been telling me that I’m not allowed to eat ice cream in the living room because I don’t pay the mortgage. Frankly, I don’t remember exactly what the conversation was about. I told him that my mom said I could, and I told him in the least malicious way possible, “You’re never home.”

He definitely got upset. I guess not too upset, because–to a degree–it was true. He wasn’t completely absent during my childhood, but he definitely had a demanding job along with a demanding wife and two demanding kids. It wasn’t his fault he struggled to balance it all out. To a certain extent, I don’t blame him for not getting home until just before dinner almost every night.

My family has also kept a few things from me about my past lineage. No, it’s nothing like murder, but it’s something that’s good to know for how it may contribute to my anxiety issues.

It’s remarkable how I’ve also been told to not bring those things up, either. Most people would just leave it alone for fear of disturbing the peace.

Me? I just devise a plan of how exactly I’d bring it up if my parents gave me crap for something completely arbitrary and only somewhat related.

I generally don’t take crap from anyone. I’m ashamed of the few instances where I have. But somehow, or some ungodly reason, I was put on this Earth to tell the truth. I was meant to tell the truth even if it was incriminating.

It scares the living crap out of me that I’ll never not be that person, but no matter how terrifying it is, someone has to be the little boy who called out the emperor.