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Quakers, “Speaking Truth to Power”

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007 @ 9:55 pm
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There is a coference coming up in March, wrestling with the philosophical question on “What is Truth?”. Am thinking of doing a presentation around the heuristic perspective towards this question and arguing for the subjective experience and its value instead of an objective reality or dogma…

 W.W offered me the following extract around the “Speaking truth to power”, as Quakers see it. Here it is:

One view is: “The phrase “speaking truth to power” goes back to 1955, when the American Friends Service Committee published Speak Truth to Power, a pamphlet ii at proposed a new approach to the Cold War. Its title, which came to Friend Milton Mayer toward the end of the week in summer 1954 when the composing committee finished work on the document, has become almost a cliche; it has become common far beyond Quaker circles, often used by people who have no idea of its origins. (One current example: Anita Hill entitled her memoir of her sensational charges of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Speaking Truth to Power.)

To speak truth to power sounds so much like an integral part of Quakerism that some modem Friends have simply assumed the phrase goes back to the seventeenth century rather than arriving late in the middle of ours. It reflects what many contemporary Friends would like to believe is the characteristic Quaker stance toward political authority, hallowed in practice if not the exact words. Yet in its origins it was a political statement, entitling an explicitly political document”

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