Speaking Truth to Power

To speak our truth sounds simple, yet it rarely is.

Finding our voice, the truth that most wants to be told, can be a life work.

Think about how difficult it is for you to ask for something significant? A specific, direct request?

As children we are edited to the degree that to speak truth might be shameful. We might need to obfuscate to enable a mode of safe survival. Keep quiet. Don’t ask too many questions. Don’t be rude!

We learn quickly that others get their power injection through shaming us. Those cruel names…fat, small, black, ginger, skinny, stupid…

We get told that we are selfish, greedy…without a proper context. A label of convenience to avoid the discomfort of the naming person.

To speak truth requires maximum care. I must care more about speaking the truth than I care what you think of me.

Can we overcome that deep-seated desire to be liked, to be nice, to be right, to be one of the ‘in’ tribe?

To speak truth we need to reach into the depths of our soul and carve words from the subterranean rocks of our existence.

It can take decades of development. Of growing courage. Of speaking partial truths. Of speaking clumsy truths. Of being cast into the slag pile of the shrill. (A more regular label if you are a woman.)

I repeat…we must care so much about the truth we desire to speak that we care less about what people will think of us or how some will respond.

Truth is hard.

Harder today than ever before.

The world of asymmetrical power — money, status, roles — profits and grows from lies, more emboldened now than ever before.

The trolls wait under the bridge of social media to suck the blood from almost anyone, a sport that gives them some strange evil joy.

Even politicians these days arm themselves with law that keeps them in the ivory tower of protection as the ‘proles’ are starved of the same.

Yet truth is also vital.

To speak truth now is to step into the arena of lions and sharks, a lone voice against a massive beast designed to stamp the truth speaker out at the first word.

The ripple in the fabric of power, the very same that eventually causes a great unraveling, begins with that first word. And those in power know it.

To find our own truth, the words that most want to be told, the words that cry in the echo chambers of our being in the dark hours — like children lost — is often a response to our own unraveling.

This is the tragedy. To find our voice the path is often the one of almost complete disintegration.

We must go to the bottom of the bottom of everything we held as important, and everything that we believed we needed to protect against.

What people might think. How people will respond. What they say.

Only when we go into the basement of our being and clear away all the rubbish we have accumulated through cultural stories, our own fears and insecurities, the BS we tell ourselves, can we find the words that form a transmission.

Clarity becomes power. Not power over, but power as a current that flows from my being into the world as words drawn from the archives of my soul.

This is to become a transmission.

When there is a legitimate fire in your house of which you are unaware, and someone yells fire with the full force of their being, we get the transmission. Instantaneously we move to action.

Speaking truth can be wordless. A look, an action, as a transmission, is equally powerful.

To watch people speak truth to power is such a rare event in a world watered down on spin, obfuscation and outright lies.

Greta Thunberg is an example. She makes people extremely uncomfortable. (If you feel uncomfortable listening to someone like Greta, examine with rigorous honestly the source of your discomfort. Is it because she is so young and she speaks so forcefully to elders, is it because she is a young ‘woman,’ is it because she calls a spade a spade and is unafraid of naming things for what they are? Look behind the words — which you may not agree with — and find the potential and legitimate source of your discomfit.)

Grace Tame, the current Australian of the Year, is another young woman who speaks truth to power with both arrow-like precession and economy of words. (Plus the occasional splice of humour.)

I observe these two young women in their clear and unrelenting actions towards serious change. Their message is unambiguous. They care not a wit the status or power plays in the audience. They transcend politics and party lines. They name things for what they are, they stand in the heat, and stay there as the stones of hate are thrown with greater frequency from the sidelines.

People often tell me they want to find their voice. They want this level of clarity.

Perhaps part of the reason we resist going to a Greta or Grace level of transmission is that we know it comes at such a great cost. Imagine millions of people hating on you? Millions? Or more? Every day. Cruelly and maliciously.

Could you handle that? Could you stay steady in that maelstrom of nasty?

Certainly not as an isolated individual. Speaking truth to power requires a team — an integrity council + a support crew to keep us from having the unrelenting attacks penetrate our defense system.

At the same time to name truth is the ultimate form of freedom.

Freedom people cry…I want my freedom. Most people crying for it in our Western World are crying for freedom from some choice they do not like. Yet those who are truly unfree — refugees trapped in long-term detention — people displaced from their homes or livelihoods through war, famine, climate change…shrouded women unable to participate in regular life..are the forgotten in our personal freedom campaigns.

To name truth, to reach inside and speak from the belly of our soul, to do so embolden by a love and care for something far greater than ourselves, this is to become free, to find our own voice and sovereignty, unable to be caught in the net of power over.

Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi — his truth spoke through flame and death.

Martin Luther King Jr put aside his prepared speech and reached into his soul and spoke of a dream.

Rosa Parks sat down and refused to get up.

Gandhi marched, and starved.

Greta sits each Friday.

Grace teaches us what it is to be groomed, gaslighted, manipulated and silenced so we may find our voice.

Australian Senator Jacqui Lambie gave us all a lesson in civic responsibility that comes with choice. (Tuesday, November 24th 2021)

Every one of these people, humans. Not perfect. Sometimes, like all of us, wrong.

Yet committed to something far greater than our petty inner wars of good enough, worthy enough, brave enough…

These people are the trim tabs of the world. A single voice that tips the axis. Maybe not in one fell swoop. But instigating the butterfly wing flap that precedes a tsunami.

To find our voice doesn’t mean we all have to become public figures exposed to the cesspit of nasty.

It can be a simple NO. I will no longer step over your behaviour. No. I will not be quiet. No, I will not conform. No, I will not agree to this violation of integrity. No, I will not allow a whole society to suffer for the individual freedoms of a few, absent any responsibility towards the whole. No, I will not stand for this injustice.

It can be a yes. Yes. I will do this. It terrifies me, and I have no idea how, but I must step out from my small existence. Yes. I will show up. Speak up. Stand up. Yes, I will take care of my mind body being. Yes, I will forgive. Yes, I will seek to understand.

Every time we live in our own lie, every time we do not reach back into our soul and speak our truth, we violate the precious human we are. Many of those who now speak truth to power lived in the shadow world of silence and self violation for so long that to do so for another single day becomes unendurable.

Truly, fully unendurable. Not life.

Yet we all do this on the journey to no longer doing this. Hence self-love and forgiveness become part of our speaking. And incredible doses of humility.

Remember that to speak truth to power is to care more about the other, or the circumstances we are in, than to care what people think of us. Humility is intrinsically wrapped in this impulse.

I want to be moved. I want people to move me. This is what happens when truth is spoken. We are moved. I want to read the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, words concentrated to their essence, and know truth.

To read and listen to truth is an essential practice in a world where lies are common currency, truth blurred so much into the shadows that we may have forgotten what it tastes like…and when spoken it catches us off balance.

It has taken me until now in my life…into my sixth decade, to find my voice. Many who know me would laugh at that…as I am known for my bold direct words. But to speak of what really matters towards a world that works for earth and all her creatures, to speak of my value, my ability to make a difference, unashamedly, humbly, wholeheartedly, this has been a life work. To call out violations of integrity, to name the elephant, to not be sidelined by the distractions and deliberate and cleverly crafted obfuscations, towards this I have no fear.

To learn how to speak truth to power with searing clarity and economy is the ultimate refinement and skill.

It is carved out of the crucible, the terrible searing melting pot of despair, attack, and fear.

From this place a simple choice. Truth or naught.

We need communities and ecologies where our voice is given ground to become a transmission. Where we are held in infinite love and care, yet also infinite service to our own discovery.

This is the community of Syntropic Blue. Built through the journey of the Syntropic Masterclass, where integrity is the essence of everything.

Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash

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Christine McDougall

Christine McDougall

Committed to supporting those in business who strive to leave the world better. syntropic.world

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