Speaking Truth to Power From a Place of Love and Compassion

With the world on a precipice, love and compassion are needed when speaking truth to power. Love is a necessary condition for positive change but it isn’t, by itself, sufficient.  Love plus truth-to-power is both necessary and sufficient.

Love is power

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the link below is a speech that is one of the most powerful examples of speaking truth to power using both love and compassion.

Everything he said 50 years ago applies to our current situation; only the ‘enemy’ has changed.Why have many of us never heard this speech?
My first time hearing it was today, following President Trump’s recent Muslim ban. Dr King’s speech is almost hallucinatory in its power and beauty.
If you listen to the entire speech you will have the spirit of a great thinker and soul touch you to your core. You will understand that this speech was written for 2017 as much as it was for 1967.
Take time out to listen with your eyes closed. This will allow you to really hear these incredible words of speaking truth to power with compassion.
The voices we mostly hear speaking up now are the usual: good-hearted politicians and activists. But we need to hear from many more – and particularly from those who hold positions of power and influence who haven’t yet spoken up.
‘Power and influence’ should not mean solely on a national scale. It also means the influence you have in your family, church, office or community.
“A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us…”
Dr. King himself was silent on the Vietnam War for a long time. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he delivered this amazing speech that encompassed not just the Vietnam War but also went to the heart of how unjust wars and oppression and hatred have been allowed to flourish.
Many people are speaking up and acting now but where are the others – silent so far – who are in positions of influence and power when we need them to speak up? It is definitely not too late to start, but it may become so—maybe sooner than we imagine.
“Somehow this madness must cease…we must stop now…”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking truth to power

Again, here is Dr. King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam. I hope you will listen to this powerful truth-to-power speech delivered with love and compassion.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking truth to power


 “We must continue to raise our voices and our lives…we must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible…these are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly…”
What does speaking truth to power mean to you? Here is what others are saying. 


Author: Harrell Guy Graham; Editor: Kathryn Thomsen


Harrell Guy Graham

Author: Harrell Guy Graham

Harrell is the creator of the ‘you are here’ and ‘good planets are hard to find’ designs. He also started a campaign – ‘Stars in Your Eyes’ – to reduce light pollution so people can see the stars. During senior year at Bellaire High School in Houston he started an underground newspaper and took the school to court on First Amendment grounds when the principal said they were communists and suspended them for daring to suggest changes to the educational system. Harrell graduated Antioch College 1977. He can be reached at harrellgraham@yahoo.com

4 Replies to "Speaking Truth to Power From a Place of Love and Compassion"

  • Good to Remember: We are All Family, and the Planet is Our Home
    November 28, 2017 (7:22 am)

    […] addition to Louise Hay, a few of my favorites are the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malal Yousafzai, Vandana Shiva, and many […]

  • Harrell Guy Graham
    February 7, 2017 (9:18 am)

    King was assassinated exactly one year to the day after he gave this speech.

    “At the time, civil rights leaders publicly condemned him for it.

    “After King delivered the speech, Smiley reports, “168 major newspapers the next day denounced him.” Not only that, but then-President Lyndon Johnson disinvited King to the White House. “It basically ruins their relationship,” says Smiley. “This was a huge, huge speech,” he continues, “that got Martin King in more trouble than anything he had ever seen or done.”

    “PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley’s… documentary, MLK: A Call to Conscience explores King’s speech”.


  • Rosaliene Bacchus
    February 6, 2017 (8:47 am)

    Kathryn, thanks for sharing the link to Dr. King’s speech. I’ll set aside time later this evening to listen to his message.

    • Kathryn Thomsen
      February 6, 2017 (11:14 pm)

      Glad to hear! We should thank Harrell Guy Graham who discovered this amazing speech and authored the blog…let us know what you think!

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