Monday, July 20, 2015

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” - Mahatma Gandhi

There is reality, and then there are the stories or narratives that are told.

Reality + motive = story.

We see things through the lens of our own interests. And if those interests involve profit, power, or control, we can bring a lot of energy to the task of helping other people see our narrative as reality.

Sometimes we're not aware that this is what we are doing. Our boss, colleagues, friends, family--they all have expectations of us, and so we craft narratives that seem to suit those who figure most importantly in our lives, often not even conscious that we are doing so.

But other times, we're quite aware. We call it marketing. Or salesmanship. Or influencing.

It's not easy to see past our own subconscious or conscious narrative-building to something more truthful, as our view of the world--and our paycheck--can be at stake. This is not an easy process, and it may be that most of the time we're not finding truth or reality, we're just getting closer to it.

And when that truth-seeking confronts someone else's pervasive and persuasive narrative, especially one that has lots of energy behind it, things can get hard. Those who depend on that narrative (again, either unconsciously or consciously) will do everything they can to keep it intact. Their responses can run from just ignoring you, to dismissing you, to outright belittling or punishing you. (E.g., the whistleblowers in the financial industry.) While there is an institutional benefit to supporting whistle-blowing (the health of the institution), in reality there tends to be little benefit, and maybe even disincentives, to the managers and decision-makers in that institution in supporting it.

So the bottom line is that speaking truth to power is not easy, and most often requires sacrifice. Gandhi was a great example of this.

Might we also be.

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