I have spent much of my life passionately “speaking truth to power.” Yet reflecting on the times that I have spoken out or stood up for something, I am aware of so many missteps, mistakes, missed opportunities, and misunderstandings. What comes to mind are the times I failed to speak out or the times I did speak out but, in looking back, feel that I shouldn’t have. Trying to find an answer to this query left me feeling, at first, like something like a failure.
There are, however, two times when I spoke out that I do not second guess. One was when I realized that my father was molesting my stepsister and I confronted him. Although he denied it, he immediately left the relationship with her mother, and so the abuse ceased. The second time was when I reported that a foster child was being abused in a relative’s home. Again, the charge was denied, but the child was eventually removed from the home.
Thinking about this, a couple of things became clear to me. First, I realized that most of the time when I regretted speaking out I had done so on my own behalf. Perhaps I thought I was being treated rudely or unfairly. Yet much of the time I have been overly sensitive or what I thought was malfeasance was just human error. But in both of the cases above I was speaking out on behalf of someone weaker and less powerful than I was who had no one else to speak for them.
Secondly, I realized that often when speaking out I have been led not by the Light but by my own ego, agenda, fears or misapprehensions. When speaking out for my stepsister and foster nephew, however, I was being led by the Spirit of Love.
There are some lessons in all of this for me. One is to discern why I feel led to speak out and for whose benefit I am speaking. Another is to speak out of a sense of love for all involved in the situation. And lastly, is to hold myself compassionately as I navigate these waters.