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Sun May 1, 2022, 12:26 PM

Murmurations: How to Be Accountable With Your Words

Murmurations: How to Be Accountable With Your Words

APR 27, 2022

(YES! Magazine) I have been longing for a real world, a true world, an honest world. I suspect our survival as a species depends upon us being able to remember what is real. And so we must also find language that sheds light on the truth, on the conditions that are unfolding, and on what is.

We are in a period of history where it is difficult to speak and sense the truth. In our 24-hour news cycle, the truth is spun and remixed and dramatized and tweeted. It can be confusing to determine what stories are real, what stories actually impact our lives, what is worth our attention, and what, once heard, we are accountable for acting upon. Many of us now find our attention directed by the trends and algorithms of social media. As I write this piece, there is an incredible direct action unfolding, as scientists around the world lock themselves to the doors of their institutions, begging us to attend to the acute climate catastrophe unfolding. But I am watching that storyline be swallowed by celebrity news and other dramas.

Distraction and redirection have become a field of specialization. There are professionals in every field and political distinction constantly calculating new ways to manipulate us into making decisions that serve their clients, their values, their politics, or their pockets. This focus-grouped messaging doesn’t come with a label, even though it’s the GMO of communications.

There is also so much complexity of perspective in how human life unfolds—the reality is that there is no single truth. Context is everything. Power dynamics, cultural experiences, class norms, and age can all have a radical impact on what we understand to be the truth.


Speak when we are afraid.

I used to think that if I could not speak without my feelings showing—for instance, speak without a tremor in my voice when I was afraid, or without tears when I felt sad—that I should be quiet, and wait until the emotion passed. But I have been learning that my most powerful words are often accompanied by the release of tears, or the quaking of my gut as fear moves words out of my mouth. When I take the risk of speaking not through or over my emotions, but rather in alignment with, or even from, my emotions, I am speaking my truth.

Speak truth that allows other truths. Hold strong boundaries against mistruths, lies, assumptions.

Not every perspective is equal, nor does every viewpoint deserve to be equally held or considered. None of us holds a definitive truth, and we need to speak with each other in ways that make room for a multitude of experiences. But we must set a standard of not indulging lies and willful mistruths. For instance, any indulgence of denial of the current climate catastrophe is dangerous for us as a species. We need to be clear and consistent in our standards for truth, and stop uplifting perspectives which cannot survive a fact-check. ......................(more)


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