NewsCultureThe Emperor’s New Clothes Communication and mental health during COVID times

The Emperor’s New Clothes Communication and mental health during COVID times

By Alejandro Caro Contreras

Choosing a story or a metaphor reveals a deep search for the truth behind what we desire to communicate that must be ongoing.

The pandemic has removed the shell of a society that was already sick; sick of an unfulfilled promise, of following a capitalist neoliberal model, where consumption could solve everything, but suddenly a virus appears and turns our life upside-down overnight. Everyone has to isolate, wear masks, and intensify hygiene habits to protect themselves against the virus, while new strains continue to appear. All the while, spiritual and religious organizations, that proclaim themselves experts in humanity, seem to remain in contemplation, reflecting, issuing documents, or remaining indifferent in their material comfort.

However, our life will never be the same, it will continue to change in many areas, work, communications, and travel.

According to the Danish story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, the king calls on two tailors to make him a new suit, but the tailors deceive him by making him believe that they dressed him in his new outfit when in reality, the king was naked. When the king asks the court how the suit looks, the courtesans tell him that it looks great; so the king goes out around town to show off his new clothes, and his subjects applaud him until a child yells: the king is naked! No one else tells the king the truth.

This same metaphor can help us understand the situation we are going through today. The King’s tailors dress as marketers, pretending to know how to protect our identity, wearing many other masks that cover our indifference towards one another.

Our lifestyle affects our health, and it almost seems that we have mortgaged the health of society with our way of life, that is, our physical and mental health, our nutrition, and our health habits. This is only the tip of the iceberg of an issue that we have not faced with determination and courage. Although there are signs such as the documents of Pope Francis Laudato Si or Fratelli Tutti, they are just words. We need to step into action to protect the planet and its inhabitants, especially the poor because everything in the universe is connected. We need to urgently achieve an equilibrium where the economy of consumption and financial groups, and the great G9 powers with their 40-year goals, are not the only parameters that govern. We are called to develop a sense of urgency so that our commitments are fulfilled.

Where do we start? What has the pandemic left us? Without a doubt, confinement, the fear of losing our lives and the lives of those we love, depression, losing our jobs, and in many cases our homes, not being able to pay for our basic needs. Fear is our worst enemy, we lose control, it paralyzes us and we cannot move forward, the only way to eliminate fear is to understand it. Understanding fear will make us more competent and more confident; therefore, we must be in touch with ourselves, perceive who we are, starting from the inside, from within. If we take that step forward, we have begun to understand fear. Fear is contrary to generosity, it is those attachments that prevent us from channeling our generosity, and our ego is selfish.

Faced with this frightening perspective, we find ourselves in a contradictory situation, where religion has hijacked spirituality, turning it into a shell that wants to control people with rules and limits that go beyond the basic sense of humanity. While our spiritual root is the basis of a harmonious and collective resignification of life. Getting there is humanity’s only hope to step out of the situation we find ourselves in.

Spirituality, that deep feeling shared by all human beings who are in awe of creation and who feel excited by the embrace of their family, seems to be increasingly further from our culture and religion. It is absent in the media and social networks. Many are confused thinking that being present in that universe means showing sacred texts or celebrating rites online. This is how religion has hijacked spirituality, transforming it into dead and meaningless rites for the average people, a situation that becomes increasingly evident when we see the little interest of young people in religion. According to a study from the National Catholic Federation of Ministry with Youth Teenagers of the United States, data shows that six young people or millennials who join spiritual or catechetical programs end up retiring, 50% of them do so at 13 years of age, and the rest at 23 on average.

Therefore, given this religious phenomenon, what is vital today is spirituality; therefore, I want to provide some elements from an anthropological perspective:

Increase a sense of generosity by discussing whether we are open to sharing and abandoning our selfishness. Generosity is an internal disposition, which we support with small gestures.

Promote the recognition of my best self, promoting an increase of self-esteem instead of looking for recognition from others.

Cultivate our mental health – this happens by getting in touch with our body – focusing on our breathing, instead of thinking about feelings or the physical body. To take a brief moment to stop our actions and go beyond the tactile dimension is more than enough. Try to make contact with yourself and withdraw for a moment, and then continue with your day. These small actions will be life-changing.

Tranquility and lucidity make us more robust, not as we have been taught, “that humans are fragile”, but on the contrary, in our spiritual interior we have a vital energy, searching for it and experiencing is very powerful, because it allows us to own the present.

Cultivate altruism, which is nothing but to have compassion for oneself. Altruism will allow us to get out of our bubble and feel compassion towards others, including those who are having a more difficult time than we are. This will give us strength and help us to step out of our existential fear.

Accept that reality and everything else is in motion that there is an interdependence. When we discover the intellectual and experiential realms, we realize that we cannot control time, the way things change, people, or events. We can hardly be in control of ourselves. We must see change as a game, not as a threat, as something that enriches life and surprises us. If there is change, there is room for improvement. The only virtue that negative emotions have is that they can change because we can eliminate or transform them.

As interdependent beings, we are part of a process. If you pull, you pull on a node within a network that drags the entire universe. If we think of ourselves as being isolated, we allow fear to set in. We must think about this in terms of the pandemic: Have we transformed ourselves into virtual islands at the mercy of the bubble of networks generated by technology companies?

This interdependence is significant because it constitutes the bridge to the discovery of the ultimate truth. When we recognize the connection with everything that surrounds us, we understand that people, animals, and the environment are ultimately vital and interculturality, community, fraternity, compassion, and consequently, social transformation, emerge. Then, we can scream that the king is naked! And be honest with ourselves and with our community.

From all of the above, we can conclude that people and social, political, religious, and media organizations that do not generate a profound change will not have anyone to write their obituaries.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


More articles