Truth, Happiness and the American Way?
By Lance Lentel
Once there was a king who had a large kingdom. The kingdom was so large that not all of the people in the kingdom knew who the king was. True, they knew that there was a king, but since the printing press and the camera had not been invented, only the people living close to the castle were able to catch a glimpse of the king.
The king had to travel to an outlying city in his kingdom. He took with him only his most trusted minister. This was the minister who knew everything about the king's business and about the kingdom.
The minister, who had been in the service of the king for many years decided to impersonate the king. He took from the king's clothing and dressed himself up as the king.
When the king and his minister arrived and the distant city, both the king and the minister announced that they were the king and that the other was an imposter. The townsfolk did not know who was the rightful king and who was an imposter. They asked each several questions about the kingdom, but both the king and the minister gave convincing answers.
The local townsfolk observed the behavior of both men claiming to be the king, but they could not discern which was the king. Both acted in accordance with their concepts of how a king should act, how a king should talk and conduct himself.
The local townsfolk were in a quandary; what could they do to discover who is the real king and who is the imposter. So they turned to the local wise man with their problem. He agreed to help them and assured them that he would soon discover who was who.
The wise man gave a piece of paper to each of the two men who claimed that they were the king. He sat each one down at a distance one from the other and began to tell them a difficult mathematical problem. The two men listened to the complicated problem and then were told to work out the answer on the paper.
As both men became engrossed in solving the problem, the wise man sat down in a chair near the door. Soon the difficulty of the problem completely engaged their minds and the townsfolk watched in silence.
Suddenly the wise man banged his fist on the table and called urgently, "Minister, minister, come quickly!!" In a second one of the men jumped up and turned towards the door. The wise man pointed his finger at him and declared him to be the imposter. The other man who did not budge from his chair was the obvious king.
And what is the message of the story?
The moral of the story is that although we can put on airs; although we can act like we would like to be. As long as we are aware of our acting game, we can convince others. But when we are caught off guard, we respond like our own true self.
We are living in a generation of externalities. More and more, the influence of the streets is flooding our houses. The false manifestations of happiness and wealth, as personified by those whom the newspapers court, influences our lives. Many in our generation are totally convinced that the measure of life is the external trappings.
Yet, we see clearly that the increase in domestic violence and marital problems has invaded even the most seemingly blissful families.
Because they are simply wearing the external manifestations of happiness. The truly happy people certainly not those whom the media presents to us as happy. Happiness does not reside in the bosom of those who masquerade as happy to ease their overblown egos.
Happiness is found behind the closed doors of those people who do not live for the attention of the masses. They, the people who put down their head to do honest work, who realize that they have many lackings and are certainly not perfect; they are the real candidates for true happiness. Only when we realize that what the media presents to us a happiness is a phony facade then we can avoid the pitfalls of those sad souls that surround us. And when we realize that only inside the path of the honest and truthful can we find true happiness.
from the December 1999 Edition of the Jewish Magazine