Do you remember the classic “No Soap, Radio” joke? It was very popular in my elementary school. It was basically a con job – a joke that made no sense and wasn’t funny. A group of kids would be in on it. One would tell the joke and the others would go hysterical with laughter. You would select one poor, unsuspecting kid who wasn’t in on the joke and try to convince him or her that it was sooo funny and didn’t they get it? Looking back, I guess I could say that it was an early foray into the world of psychological testing. Those with stronger character would admit it wasn’t funny, but most would eventually go along, not wanting to look stupid. It wasn’t meant to be mean…just fun, especially because most who were in on it had been duped before and were just paying it forward.
It’s actually very similar to Hans Christian Andersen’s classic ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ – a favorite story of mine. A vain and pompous Emperor is duped by two con men into paying for very expensive and “special” clothing. They convince him that the clothes were of the most beautiful colors and elaborate patterns and the material was so fine that the clothes felt as light on the wearer as a “a spider web”, but only the smartest people in the Kingdom can see it. Going along with it, the Emperor parades through the Kingdom in his birthday suit. The people in his Kingdom had been told about the Emperor’s “special clothing” and not wanting others to think they were stupid, they all go along with it. A child in the crowd shouts out “He’s naked!” and finally everyone must admit it.
Wanting to look smart, we often look foolish.
It seems to me that so many people today are still “living like they get the joke”. So many go along with the trends and what the mass media and Hollywood tell us is funny or moral, or interesting. Nowhere is this more prevalent than when it comes to moral issues. People just go along with the culture’s mass influx on what to believe when it comes to moral issues no matter how rapidly they twist and change without taking the time to reflect.
The part that is more tragic than funny is the irony being publicly displayed on social media, cable and other mass media platforms of the countless news and political pundits, social activists, talk show hosts, sport figures, comedians and other entertainment celebrities all decreeing their outrage and condemnation on whatever they perceive as grave moral misconduct of other people’s words or actions – in a culture that doesn’t even admit the existence of moral absolutes.
What is there to decry about if morality is all relative?
God isn’t confused, and we don’t have to be either. He has never changed. The scriptures proclaim that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God created us, He’s perfectly wise, He knows us, and He loves us. So, when He gave us the Church and its magisterium to teach us His instructions on how we can live an abundant life, He knew what He was doing.
Emotional health in great part involves living in reality. Being out of touch with reality is a sure sign of mental illness. It’s interesting how our spiritual life, our emotional life and our mental health are connected. Taking the time to study and reflect on the Catechism of the Church to develop a sound footing in faith, by knowing and believing in revealed absolute truths, gives us a significant edge when it comes to emotional health.
The truth is if we are easily swayed by the tides of fashion or politically correct causes, a person will eventually get pulled under. To prevent this, it’s important that we cultivate our emotional life and learn to be present to our physical feelings, our emotions, and all the beauty that surrounds us. Turning off the noise and spending time each day in prayer and quiet reflection is a great safeguard for avoiding this modern trap of conformity.
In silence is where God speaks. Are you listening?….
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