The second musings from Hans Christian Andersen's story about the Emperor’s clothes refers to those two con artists who lobbied the leaders into thinking that what they were saying was the truth, when actually it was one big con. Perhaps today a better term for them would be political lobbyists.
Political lobbyists seek to gain favor with national, state, community, business and local leaders so they can push their agenda or ideological desires and try to get the best possible deal or laws for their own small specific interest group.
These supposed weavers were doing the same thing; they sought to gain the ear of the Emperor. Their desire was to get their agenda pushed forward. They knew the Emperor was obsessed with clothes and how he looked. They sought to leverage that obsession for their own comfort, wealth and wellbeing.
The Emperor and his counselors gave in to the sweet words and pressure.
In 2007, it was believed that there were approximately 15,000 lobbyists at the federal level of the US government and they spent about $2.85 billion pressurizing and sweet talking leaders.
In 2010 the number had dropped to about 13,000, although the spending had increased to $3.50 billion.
In Nov 2009 it was estimated that there was a total of about 40,000 registered lobbyists at the state and federal level of the US government.
Leading in the context of government is supposed to mean serving the people. However the emperor and his entourage were conned because they were hoodwinked by sweet words that fed, not public service, but their egos. When the servant gives in to wanting the best in life rather than achieving the best for others, a mindset of expectation rather than an attitude of assistance comes to the fore. Before long the leaders lose their servant attitude and must try to build their power base to achieve more power. They are prone to attach themselves to what seems the best emerging interest or pressure group, just to keep or gather power. Power that can give them the edge and help them achieve their own or their power base’s agenda. This gives the opportunity for people to inflate the leaders’ ego for their own self-interest rather than give counsel for the community’s benefit. Just like the weavers who couldn’t weave with cloth but could weave with words of deceit.
The people who seek self worth often have to make a show of their influence and wealth by parading it for all to see.
However, in the Hans Christian Anderson's story we read that as this affluence and power is paraded, the simple truth, spoken by a child, “He’s naked”! is heard. The cry of the innocent rises up and people are encouraged to listen. The best advice anyone can give.
When leaders turn away from the cry of the innocent society breaks down.
Today the innocent cry comes from all walks of life. The poor and the wealthy; the sick and the whole; the young and the old
The poor who have limited and dwindling access to the resources that would help protect them from abuse, oppression, slavery and that would assist them in journeying through their poverty.
The wealthy who are badgered and persecuted by illegal practices and preyed upon.
The sick and the dying who can not get adequate care because they are a burden on corporate profit.
The young whose educational opportunities mean they are burdened with debt. Or the 12 & 13 year old’s that are being trafficked and sold within our communities.
And the old who give much to society and are then set aside as if somehow redundant and no longer able to be part of the community.
I am reminded that at one point Jesus was hemmed in and enclosed by people who were vying for his attention and wanting things from him. Yet in that moment he heard the cry of the innocent.
A women who had been bleeding for many years and who had once been financially affluent but had lost it in her quest for health.
She had not been able to get any help from her health care providers and was living on the margins of society.
She desperately needed healing and believed Jesus was the one who could provide it and came in secret and touched his cloak.
Jesus felt her, heard her and listened to the cry of the innocent.
The transformative touch from Jesus helped bring this woman from the margins and back into a whole relationship with the community she belonged to. Many women, men and children, who are enslaved in our communities today desire that same transformation.
Today lobbying goes on in London, Washington, New York, Paris, Belgium and various other capitals of the world, by people and organizations who are seeking their own and/or their special interest or corporate sponsors’ well being.
The challenge for leaders is:-
Are they going to be confused and misguided like the emperor? Led astray by smooth talking counselors who want only power, wealth and their own ideological desires? Or will they listen to the cry of the innocent and those that represent them? Will they act in a manner that will restore and transform lives, that will bring freedom and give hope for the future and enrich and enhance community life?