What does “Speak Truth to Power mean”? I’ve been hearing that phrase a lot lately so I did some digging.
The simplest definition is that when talking to “Power”, truth as simply stated as possible will eventually win out. Why? – Well, it’s the truth.
It was first used in the 1950’s by the Quakers in trying to convince governments to work towards peace. Their truth simply stated was the Love of God.
Since the Quakers the Left has, as it does with most truths, turned that saying on its head along with the “Speak Truth to Power” programs of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Thomas Moore, to fit their own agenda. The Quakers, Gandhi and King talked of non-violence, the left as evidenced by the riots of late and since the 1960’s seems to relish and thrive on violence as SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA) said “…fight in the streets.” “Speak Truth to Power” was changed to “Truth to Power” and now simply “Fight the Power”.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/12/1597418/-Rage-Against-Trump-FIGHT-FIGHT-FIGHT . Like the name implies their cry is fight-fight-fight. Not Speak to Power but to Fight Power.
That “upside down syndrome” the Left has is never more obvious than in their stance against “rugged individualism”.
David Davenport and Gordon Lloyd recently published the book “Rugged Individualism – Dead or Alive” in which they trace what they call “Rugged Individualism” from our country’s founding to the present and what they think the future holds. They too are worried about it but are cautiously optimistic.
I have constantly wondered whether in this new modern age with populations so large and interconnected that chances for “Rugged Individualism” to succeed seemed doomed and a thing of the past. I try in my own way to up hold that concept of individual freedom upon which our Constitution is based to the best of my ability but find the going “rugged”.
I have taken some solace from what I’ve read so far from their book. In their eyes there is still hope. I posit that this last election was proof that “Rugged Individualism” was still alive and well though fighting for its life.
Here is my thought process.
The whole notion of Civilization implies several people in order to live together adopting laws and rules that all have to abide by in order for society to function. That in itself while necessary is the first encroachment upon individual freedom.
I like the safety those rules give us. I like the idea of police protecting me and my family when I cannot. I don’t mind paying taxes to ensure my safety and my ability to drive on nice roads, eat untainted food and in general live a life free of dire want for food, water and shelter and to be protected from common thieves and or homicidal maniacs.
That is all well and good but this feeling of safety can be addicting. I sit for example on the County Road Board of Commissioners and I hear the saying “If we can save just one life it’s worth it.” It is said as an argument against the cost of a project that someday might just save one life. As a board member I have to weigh these things. I also have to weigh all these decisions in reality. The reality is that people die because we have roads which allow people to drive at speeds which cause death when accidents occur. So while all life is important the choice is really what can we do with the limited resources we have that will save the most lives?
The trap here in Oceana County is the same as it is in Washington D.C. – Who wants to feel cold and heartless? Politicians definitely don’t want to. The only way out is to frame the answer as I just did into one of saving the most lives.
On the other side of liking the safety of laws there is this and it is a big one: I at the same time want to be protected from tyranny. I want to be able to do what I want when I want as long as I accept the consequences and know what those consequences are.
There’s the rub, how can individualism survive? As communities get bigger and bigger we need more laws which if we don’t watch it will continue to shrink our individual freedoms. This brings us back to the meaning of “Rugged” in “Rugged Individualism”.
While most of us think of a “Rugged Individual” as one in rough appearance for example a “Mountain Man” wearing a fur coat from the bear he killed, walking with snow shoes checking his traps and living in the little log shack he built himself. Today as in the past, the term should be defined by actions not by appearance.
Davenport and Lloyd in their book look to the internet as perhaps the savior of “Rugged Individualism”.
What this Individualism has to do with “Speaking Truth to Power” is simple. In this day and age when speaking the truth of Individual Freedom to Power we need to be rugged not in looks (although it helps) but in spirit. While this should be easy because the basis of all the law in the land is the Constitution which enshrines individual freedom. The first line writ large, boldly states
It further does this through the “enumerated powers” clause. These are found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
This lists or enumerates the only powers given to the Federal government by the Constitution. The rest are reserved for the individual states or the individuals of the states. Here is a quote from Section 8. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The framers had a reason when they added “…or to the people.” That reason is to highlight the importance of and to protect individual freedom in the working of our form of government – federal, state and local.
I’m an alcoholic and a saying we have about our program seems apropos here. “It works if you work it”. For a long time we haven’t been working it. Along the same line Benjamin Franklin at the end of the Constitutional Convention replied when asked what they had given us. “A Republic Madam, if you can keep it.”
Our American experiment in self-governing through “individual freedom” will work only if we work it. We need to speak the message of individual freedom to the Power of government any chance we get.
While it is our job to protest what is wrong, it is also our responsibility to make the system work. That is what the rule of law creed implies. The rules we set up we should follow or we need to change the rules. The whole concept of majority ruling without any checks upon itself leads to suppression and subjugation of the minority simply because the majority can. (The French found that out in their revolution.) Eventually power will corrupt.
There has been nothing worse throughout history than a self-righteous majority. The term “Rugged Individualism” was first used by President Herbert Hoover. He wrote a book called “American Individualism” in 1922 which was very short essay but got a lot of attention.
Remember this is 1922 between the world wars. His concept of American Individualism transcended politics and ideologies – That always seems a good thing. That is real Truth to Power and refreshing, as it was coming from Power.
That is what President Trump is trying to do. He is speaking Truth to the real Power, the American People. Remember them? Those were the ones everybody, ignored, flew over and made fun of -- you know the ones who elected Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America. It is time for us to listen and do our part, seek out the truth and speak it.
Regards, Bob Carr
Live Dangerously, Tell the Truth