Speaking Truth To Power, The Ultimate Act Of Courage


In times when palanquin bearers of a lie and the hate ensuing from it get wrapped in tricolour and garlanded by union ministers, it remains entirely up to these foot soldiers of truth to risk their existence…

Among the greatest acts of bravery is to speak a word of truth to power. The Prophet of Islam counted it among the greatest forms of struggle that mankind undertakes.

 In civilizations throughout history, there have been tyrants and there have been heroes. Some have faced them in the battlefields. Others have spoken the truth and paid for it with life or lifelong persecution. And I am not talking of accidental brave hearts who lack the self-preservation genes altogether but of people who know at every inch of their truth-ward journey that they are walking on ground fraught with landmines that may explode any moment.

This was worded most aptly by journalist Rohini Singh after her expose of Jay Shah’s business dealings. She had said that she was not brave, she was just a journalist and speaking truth to power was a part of her job.

The narrative of men and women who have constantly put their lives in the line of fire to speak the truth has walked out of history books and sensational political exposes and entered into our everyday lives. We have lived to see the times when the only vocation more perilous than that of the one who seeks the truth and then tells it to the world is that of a dairy farmer. While being seen with a cow can prove fatal, being heard/read championing the truth can land one in the dungeons or at the very least put him at the receiving end of blows and kicks.

It is a struggle to constantly weigh words against the consequences that they can usher in one’s life.

Ten months since the cold-blooded murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, the institutions she fearlessly spoke against have become manifold more tyrannical. They have succeeded in bringing about a social order that thrives on white lies and wrong facts. And for truth to survive in such a jungle of lies and fake narratives is just as it is for a hare to survive in a jungle full of lions and tigers. Don’t they after all say that a lie travels half way around the world while the truth is tying its laces?

To gauge the extent to which lies have started to appeal to the common masses one only has to see the extent to which they can go to adhere to it. The most recent practical manifestation of that came in the form of brutal lynching of a Google employee by common villages on mere suspicion of child lifting. It was a lie propagated by a mischief monger that lead to his brutal, broad day light, murder.

Every war when seen without the layers of complexity that shroud it, is essentially a war between truth and lie. Right now each one of us, whether we realise it or not is in the midst of a fierce battle, sided either with the truth which is natural, simple, silent but permanent or with the lie which is by its very nature manufactured, ostentatious, loud but ultimately temporary.

That a lie also needs expensive apparatus to live its short span before being supplemented by another lie has been proven by the Cobra Post sting which revealed the role of media houses in force-feeding the lies to gullible masses.

The fringe and the mainstream underwent a smooth role reversal right before our eyes. Most had been too preoccupied with lies handed out to them to even notice the massive shift.

But as they say, as long as a single spark is alive, hope is not lost.

It is reassuring to know that despite the ever-tightening noose truth has not yet lost its voice. There are media houses that have resisted monetary seduction as well as arm twisting and have continued with honest reporting. There are women who speak truth to power despite threats of rape and systematic persecution. There are men who refuse to be intimidated and silenced.

It’s heartening to see that the strongest voices emerging against persecution of minorities belong to the majority community.

In times when palanquin bearers of a lie and the hate ensuing from it get wrapped in tricolour and garlanded by union ministers it remains entirely up to these foot soldiers of truth to risk their existence and a lot of what exists between existing and not existing, namely, honour, credibility, employment, freedom, face and limbs to keep the lamp of truth and ultimately the hope for a just social order alive.



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