My Two Cents
November 1, 2017, 12:00 AM

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

This turn of the biblical phrase from John 8:32 is thought to have first been seen on a poster in a Syracuse residential treatment facility for alcoholics. Gloria Steinem altered the phrase a few years later. “The truth will set you free, but first it will p&%$ you off.” Either way, there is so much wisdom in these words.

Twenty seven years ago, in 1990, when     Principal Bolanos spotted me on the parking lot rushing four year old Isaac to pre-school at 9:04 and shouted across the parking lot, “School starts at nine Mr. Powell!”, I would like to say my first thought was to respond, “Yes, Dr. Bolanos”. But I was mad at the truth.

When it became clear to me that the vicious contact I had deliriously enjoyed for years on Sunday afternoons in front of the big screen was the same contact that was incapacitating those brave football players way too early in their lives, I would like to say I just stopped watching. But it hasn’t been easy.

And, what about the truth that is cascading down like a mighty stream from every place where white males have enjoyed more than their fair share of power? How many of the women and men who were assaulted felt the    anger of others before they felt their compassion?

There is wisdom in these words: the truth shall set us free, but first it will make us miserable. The phrase is a little too long to fit on a bumper sticker, but might work on the front of our fridge. As long as we can see it  often enough to remember this: when someone says or does something that makes us  really angry or uncomfortable, before we      respond we might want to take just a moment to look for hints of the truth that are in the mix.

Once upon a time Jesus of Galilee called upon the prophetic voice of his Jewish tradition and named the truth he saw everywhere around him. We all know how that turned out. And yet here we are all these years later following that same voice. Makes me think that one way we can take a look at ourselves to see how much we’ve grown, is to try and remember the last time our minds were changed by someone who first made us angry.

I THINK I understand now that rules about being on time still apply to me no matter how the morning has gone with a willful four year old. Thank you Dr. Bolanos.

I can only hope that once or twice over those same twenty-seven years what has first made me angry or uncomfortable has eventually helped turn me toward freedom.

What do you think?




Post a Comment