Speaking Truth as a Good Work in the World


As I was pondering what to share tonight, there were three image files I'd saved that seemed to spark together. Here's the first, by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a favorite of many of my generation, and unfortunately all but unknown to the young:




















Elder Maxwell is here saying something profound--there are two forms of "innocence." One is the innocence of a child who has experienced very little of the world. The second is the innocence of a saint, who has experienced very much of the world and has chosen righteousness. While there is nothing amiss at all with the first type of innocence, there is indeed something very special about the second type of innocence.

To have proven oneself comparatively righteous in a darkening world--after all, no one is perfect in mortality, let's not kid ourselves--takes courage and takes a commitment to the truth. The world is well versed in buying the silence of those who know the difference between right and wrong. The world is very skilled in forcing conformity to that which is wrong. To be able to resist the temptations of silence and conformity takes inner steel. It is so easy to just let go and let the world have its way in your life; to present no obstacle to the march of Babylon. Conversely, there is a big price to pay for standing in front of Babylon's tanks.

Which leads me to the second image file:



















Now there is a bracing thought! We think, okay, I may know the difference between right and wrong, but I can just be quiet about it. Not rock the boat. But that's not right, is it? If you know the difference between truth and lies, right and wrong . . . If you know the emperor has no clothes on . . . if you know that there's a huge sinkhole in the path of many people, you cannot be silent. As painful as the consequences are for speaking up, what else is there to do? How can one hide the candle of truth and feel justified in so doing?

I'd argue a person of righteousness has an obligation to speak up, until that time God--and God alone--tells you there is no one left who will hear. Only one man heard Abinadi, but that man greatly, greatly mattered. You will never know to whom God has forwarded your words.

Which brings me to the third image file:














In the world of ideas where I spend my professional time, I often hear, "Oh, you can't say X, because awful person Y says that, too!" Through this strategem, many good people have chosen silence rather than speak the truth and somehow be associated with whoever the current bogeymen are. This is a corrosive way of thinking, and I believe this image pretty much sums up why. The truth stands independent from all of us. To say the truth is merely to say the truth--it does not ally you with anyone else. Nor does the fact that a bogeyman says the truth make truth into lies. That so many people appear incapable of grasping this very elementary point suggests to me that it is in fact a knowing and purposeful strategy used to silence any mention of the truth.

These thoughts tonight may not be very profound, but I have been thinking about these things for some time now. I do not know anything more worth dying for than the truth. The truth is the healing fire. Its independence is the structure of the entire universe. To impart the truth without regard for consequences is one of the most virtuous acts one can undertake, for evil is based on lies.

Keep speaking up. Keep saying those truths. Don't be silent, don't conform. The lies crumble like sand castles in the face of truth. You can save a soul through truth speaking, and therefore it is an act of real love.