What Is Speaking Truth To Power?
In Speaking Truth About Speaking Truth To Power, Ed Driscoll explained the origin of that phrase, “speaking truth to power.” Similarly, Blue Intrigue writes The Truth About Speaking Truth to Power at the Daily Kos. Apparently, The Quakers originated the phrase in a political document, a 1950’s pamphlet entitled “Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence.”
Driscoll’s point is that “speaking truth to power” has its origins in anti-war pacifism, and Blue Intrigue apparently agrees.
So, speaking truth to power is not about wise-cracks on Comedy Central or Special Comments or street theatre. It is a fundamental shift in the way we all think about violence and how to reject it. Speaking truth to power is a commitment to peace that must manifest itself in everything we do. (from here)
Nonetheless, the meaning of the phrase has morphed. Now speaking truth to power just means saying something those in authority don’t want to hear.
Can we successfully speak truth to power? I have my doubts. As Driscoll points out too often those who would speak truth to power have the power. Moreover, they do not necessarily speak the truth; their words can be mere sophistries designed to manipulate.
The Principalities, The Powers, And The Dark Rulers Of This World
When I was a boy, I enjoyed playing with toy soldiers. I suppose that for a similar reason I also enjoyed watching ants march across the landscape. Their order and discipline awed me. Of course, being a boy, I could not leave well enough alone. As the master of my own little universe, I contrived to pit ant colonies in warfare with each other. Then I watched the agonies of their conflicts in fascination.
Although the ants were not entirely helpless, there was little they could do. To the ants I was the “power.” Could those little ants speak truth to me? No. So I made them my toys and amused myself.
Similarly, the powers that be in our society can be overwhelming.
Ephesians 6:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Even when the principalities, the powers, and the dark rulers of this world can hear our words, too often they don’t bother to listen. The puny wisdom of tiny ants means little to them.
Just as ants are enslaved by their instincts, we are enslaved our sinfulness. Just as I manipulated the instincts of the ants in my backyard to trick them into fighting each other, the principalities, the powers, and the dark rulers of this world manipulate us far more completely through our wrathfulness, our greediness, our slothfulness, our pridefulness, our lustfulness, our enviousness, our gluttony….
How Can We Speak Truth To Power?
So what can we do? We can plead our case to a higher authority. We can speak the truth about redemption from sin (see WHEN DO THE PEOPLE STEAL THEIR OWN FREEDOM?). As Ephesians 6 explains, we can “put on the whole armour of God” (verse 11). With our own wisdom we cannot bring peace, but the word of God is the gospel of peace (verse 15). When we take our case to God, even though we remain subject to the governing authorities, we rest the security of our souls in God’s hands.
Romans 13:1-7 English Standard Version (ESV)Submission to the Authorities
13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
How does this work? That is a mystery, but the Apostle Paul had no illusions about the “divine right” of kings. He just understood God to be God.
Romans 8:28 American Standard Version (ASV)
28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.
Although the principalities, the powers, and the dark rulers of this world may be evil, God has the power to ensure all things work together for good. Even though we may see no material reward in this life, we have the peace of knowing we will receive a great blessing in the next. Therefore, when obedience to God requires us to defy the principalities, the powers, and the dark rulers of this world, we will have the faith and the courage to do so.
- Speaking Truth to Power: Why would heads want to and why would government listen? (suerobinson2.wordpress.com)
- I guess Speaking Truth to Power is OUT (bokertov.typepad.com)
- For Earth Day I Wrote a Letter about the Keystone XL Pipeline (Instead of Signing a Petition) (resilience.org)
- Speaking Truth to Power (inthegreyspace.wordpress.com)
- Communication Is The Key To Success (futurelawyer.typepad.com)
- Video: Clarence Thomas Speaks Truth to Power – Obama Says What They ‘Expect From A Black Person’ (riehlworldview.com)