Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Feature: Truth to Power

Yesterday morning, I got caught up in the James Comey testimony. Until a few months ago, I'd never watched any televised governmental proceedings (aside from election results and State of the Union addresses), and, even now, I can count on one hand the number of events like yesterday's that have kept me glued to the television.

In the course of the testimony, someone commented on Mr. Comey's ability to "speak truth to power." As a writer, I love words and I pride myself on having an above average vocabulary. I have to confess, however, that although I've heard that particular phrase a number of times, I was never quite sure what it meant.

So, I did what any curious writer would do. I Googled it.

The top result led me to a Huffington Post blog, but first, it provided me with a definition:

"Speaking truth to power means believing deeply in what you say and fighting every day to have that heard."

Later on, when I wasn't so caught up in the questions and answers, I read the whole article, which was written by then-seventeen-year-old Jade Greear. Who better, after all, to explain a phrase best looked up in Urban Dictionary?

As it turns out, though, the phrase originated with the Quakers long before Jade -- or even I -- was born. And, as with so many other words and phrases we commonly use, we don't all necessarily  mean exactly the same thing when we say it. Jade addresses this in her post, and it's interesting (or at least I thought it was) to read the nuances that particular phrase conjures up.

Whether or not you believe James Comey spoke truth to power, there's value in the concept. In addition, this phrase and the passion behind it explains a lot of what we see on social media.

How ironic that watching a hearing trying to get at the truth would lead me to an unexpected lesson.

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