A driver deliberately races down the empty lane to the closed toll booth, passing the terminally stalled lines of traffic. The action creates confusion, more congestion, then total frustration. Because, rather than rejecting this bad behavior, one naïve fool allows the driver to cut into the front of the open line. The result: Two wrongs do not make a right. The “polite” driver is not only disrespecting all the other rule-abiding drivers in line but, worse, enabling and emboldening the selfish cutter’s behavior.
Most commuters have numbed to these daily anti-social situations. Even though most will also agree this practice is as inappropriate as someone cutting in line at a movie theater or concert. So why is it ignored?
How about if we socially conscious, law-abiding citizens say enough already to jerks. Now is the time to “call ‘em as we see ‘em” and expose the “naked truth.”
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES
To appreciate the phrase naked truth, it helps to recall Hans Christian Andersen’s fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The story tells of an emperor so exceedingly fond of magnificent clothes that he allowed himself to be swindled into purchasing an outfit of “the most magnificent fabrics imaginable,” which, the two weavers claimed, “had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was usually stupid.”
Asked for their opinion, none of his officials dared to admit they saw nothing for fear that would prove they were either unfit or a fool. Even the townspeople who watched the naked emperor’s public procession also commented on his fine new clothes. It was until a little child said, “But he hasn’t got any clothes on,” that everyone cried out at last.
The tale has become a metaphor for social hypocrisy and collective denial. And, idiomatic of having the courage to challenge authority and criticize something widely accepted as true or praiseworthy.
We have become too polite and too passive for our own good. Rudeness is chipping away at civility. Stupidity is pandemic. George Carlin warned us, “Think how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
We need righteous indignation and less gratuitous acceptance and turning the other cheek.
OVEREXPOSED, NAKED TRUTHS
What constitutes a naked truth is relative. At the risk of leading witnesses, the following matrix suggests a handful of rude, stupid behaviors worthy of being called out.
Naked truths to call out in society:
- Challenge obsessive talkers to ask a question every now and then, or at least to take a breath occasionally between mindless blather. Enough said.
- It is a lie when the recorded customer service message says “Your time is very important to us.”
- Forgive and forget is a one-off thing. Next time, which is inevitable, all bets are off.
Naked truths to call out on the road:
- For everyone’s sake, don’t cut; use your blinker to warn the rest of us; and don’t consider Stop signs as merely suggestions.
- Hey lane-splitting motorcyclist, please become an organ donor.
- Prius owner: No need for that “coexist” sticker. You’re so good, it’s redundant.
Naked truths to call out in the workplace:
- Boss: You’re not fooling anyone when you close your door.
- Regularly scheduled meetings are deadly. The shorter and smaller the better. Challenge verbosity and source-less boasts that “everyone” agrees with me.
Naked truths to call out in aging:
- We’ve seen enough “cute” tap dancing and rapping centenarians.
- Retire from a job. Then, repurpose your life.
- Older age does not entitle anyone to be rude or offer unsolicited advice about others’ weight or relationships.
Naked truths to call out in politics:
- Read a newspaper or at least watch the news. Do your civic duty and vote! Then complain.
- Keep smugness, name-calling and hyperbole in check.
- “Elevate the discourse” as the online political communication forum Retail Politics
- Step outside of echo chambers to hear what others are saying (including and especially dissenting voices).
Naked truths to call out in science and religion:
- Disavow hypocrisy and contradictions. Beliefs are fine, but Bible stories do not disprove scientific evidence and indisputable facts. (Opinions are changeable, facts are constant.)
- Remind zealots that The Golden Rule is nonsectarian, nonpartisan and non-biased.
And finally, there is this naked truth about humility. The virtue is under attack — mainly because it is misunderstood and undervalued. In fact, confidence (to fearlessly say what’s on your mind) is the foundation of humbleness.
Harris Wittels researched, coined the phrase and wrote the best-selling book, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty. He explained, “I like to think I am doing some sort of service for society (#humblebrag) – putting humblebraggers in check, so that we can get back to a time when braggers either outright bragged like assholes or just didn’t do it at all.” With all due humility, the same could be said for calling out naked truths. You are to be commended for your public service.