Don’t underestimate the power of truth. There’s nothing more powerful. Now in order to speak what you might regard as the truth, you have to let go of the outcome. You have to think: OK, I’m going to say what I think; stupid as I am, biased as I am, ignorant as I am, I’m going to state what I think, as clearly as I can. And I’m going to live with the consequences, no matter what they are.
That’s an element of faith. The idea is that nothing brings a better world into being than the stated truth. Now you might have to pay a price for that, but that’s fine. You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do, and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to chose to not pay a price; you get to choose which poison you’re going to take. That’s it.
So if you’re going to stand up for something, stand up for your truth because it will shape you and people will respond and object and will tell you why you’re a fool and a biased moron and why you’re ignorant, and then if you listen to them you’ll be just that much less like that the next time you say something. And if you do that for five years, you’ll be so damn tough and articulate and able to communicate and withstand pressure that you won’t even recognise yourself. And then you’ll be a force to contend with.
And you don’t get to wait until … you get tenure … you become an associate professor … you become a full professor. If you’re a professor already, you’re like the most protected person in the history of the planet. And one of the things that indicates is that it’s almost impossible to provide people with enough protection so that they feel safe to speak.
OK, so we’ll address that directly: it is not safe to speak, and it never will be, but the thing you have to keep in mind is that it’s even less safe not to speak. It’s a balance of risks. Do you want to pay the price of being who you are and stating your mode of being in the world, or do you want to pay the price for being a bloody serf? One that’s enslaved him or her self. Well, that’s a major price; that thing unfolds over decades, and you’ll just be a miserable worm at the end of about twenty years of that. No self-respect, no power, no ability to voice your opinions; nothing left but resentment because everyone’s against you, because of course, you’ve never stood up for yourself. …
So tell the truth. Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie; that’s a start.