Clothes are like Ideas
Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that wear clothes. A circus bear might wear a tutu, or a dog might wear an ugly Christmas sweater, but they would never choose to be adorned this way. Humans force other animals to wear clothes because we need them, and they don’t. This makes us feel insecure. Like a proper English gentleman walking into a nudist colony, seeing how comfortable everyone is with their bodies, and then telling them to cover up.
Humans need to wear clothes. This is for a variety of reasons. Our clothing provides a means to express ourselves. A tiger wearing a tiger skin is normal. A human in a tiger-print coat is adventurous and exciting.
Clothing also demonstrates a person’s social status. We know men who wear business suits are successful, and women who wear pearls are rich. Humans are not gifted with colorful plumage. In order to get attention, and display our worth, we need clothing. “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”
The most important function of clothing, though, is to provide protection from the elements. When compared to other creatures, humans are weak. We can’t see, smell, or hear very well, our bodies are frail, and we give in to discomfort. The Earth is a dangerous place, especially for someone without any clothes. You can be frozen, burnt, broken, and bent. Clothes cannot prevent these things, but they do mitigate the damage.
Clothing makes the human being master of all environments. Lack of clothing makes him master of none.
We humans are the only creatures to wear clothes. We’re also the only creatures to have ideas and beliefs.
Ideas and beliefs serve many of the same functions as clothing, although in a different context. They are one of the greatest modes of self-expression. What better way to let people know what you think then by telling them what you think?
You can tell a lot about a person by the beliefs they choose to express. Conservative or liberal. Religious or atheist. Crazy or sane.
You can tell a person’s place in society by what they choose to believe in. In our society someone who is consistently talking about race is either a poor minority, or a rich white person. If a person expresses interest in investment options, and has an opinion on tax codes, they are probably a big higher up on the totem pole. If they believe the government fakes the moon landings, they are probably on the very bottom.
Like clothing, the most important function of beliefs and ideas is to protect the people who have them. Ideas and beliefs do not protect us from weather or physical danger. Believing in Santa won’t keep you warm in the winter. But that belief may protect you from the very real threats of fear, disappointment, and despair.
Atheists are people who think they don’t need protection. Like that guy who never wears a jacket, and always complains about the cold. Or an astronaut who decides he doesn’t really need that radiation shielding.
The world is full of emotional radiation. Things that can get you down and won’t go away. You can face these things alone, but without something to believe in, something to protect you from harsh reality, you will develop a personality that is cancerous and gross.
Ideas are like clothes, they protect us from harsh elements and realities. If naked people have little influence, then those who don’t believe in anything are in the same boat.
It is important to have ideas and beliefs. Just don’t wear so many layers that you can’t move.