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Friday, August 24, 2012

Reviewing The Loneliness Of The Truth Teller

The article, The Loneliness Of The Truth Teller, is written by a friend of a friend of mine. The good and bad news here is that the title says it all. The title tells us a very important truth that most of us prefer not to hear. That, all too often, telling the truth isolates us from others, even from those we love. This is because the truth exposes the man behind the curtain. Truth shows us the underside of how we get what we want. Truth challenges our love for power and earthly treasure.

The bad news is that the detailed explanation of why the truth teller is by himself is what's missing from this article. Another missing in action item is the use of current examples of lonely truth tellers. Bradley Manning has been internally exiled into loneliness because of his truth telling. When Martin Luther King criticized the Vietnam war, his popularity plummeted showing another example of how loneliness can threaten a truth teller. But some have suffered far more than loneliness. King was later shot by a sniper when working for economic justice. Gandhi was felled when working for reconciliation. Sophie Scholl was executed for trying to start a revolt against the Nazis. Oscar Romero and his Jesuit associates were slaughtered for helping the wrong people, the poor. Rachel Corrie was plowed under by a bulldozer when she was protecting a Palestinian home from demolition. Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated for shedding light on the brutal state terrorism that was occurring in Chechnya.

Thus we see truth telling can bring more than isolation, it can cause death. When does truth telling  make us a social wallflower and when does it threaten our life? It depends on the audience. We are usually, but not always, safe when preaching truth to peers. But one takes one's own life into their hands when one scolds wealth and power.

Though the above specifics are what is missing from this article, there is still stuff to learn from here. First, MaGuire lists the Old Testament prophets' indictment on men for trading the truth for lies. These prophets charge us with preferring "smooth" and "seductive" talk. It is as if we choose those who speak to us as we would choose dates. We prefer empty promises and flattery. And because of this, we are furthering our own demise.

But, again, MaGuire would do well to talk about why we forsake the truth for the seductive. Certainly we have alluded to that already. We might also add that those who only listen to what is nice have chosen the security that comes with silent obedience to meeting one's moral responsibility to speak out against injustice which the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, and James sought.

Second, MaGuire writes about how individual prophets would address specific issues. He imagines how Jeremiah would challenge our government for cutting budgets that help human need while increasing military budgets. He goes on to describe how Isaiah would also chastise our government for its budget because, again, it gives too much to war and little to nothing to eliminate poverty or promote peace. Then he briefly states how Micah, Hosea, and Jesus would challenge our government on healthcare. He goes on to mention one person who contracted and died from a serious but treatable disease because this person could neither qualify for help nor afford healthcare.

There are important things to read in this article. However, the title is misleading. The article has nothing to do with the isolation of the truth teller but everything to with the message and the audience.

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