Friday, March 21, 2014

"Speak power to truth"

As I'm writing this, students in Taiwan are occupying the Legislative Yuan, the parliament in Taiwan, to protest the ruling party's attempt to run through a service trade agreement with China that many fear would harm Taiwan's economy. I have been keeping up with the events through Facebook, reading posts by various people I know and don't know who write or show pictures of the events of the protests, and I feel connected to these events and proud of the students who have stood up for their futures in a way that makes me proud to say that I used to live there. 

I started this blog 10 years ago today (well, actually yesterday) with posts about the 2004 Taiwan presidential election and the protests that took place after that. Now Taiwan is at another turning point in its history, and I hope that this is a time when more people in the world listen to the voices of the people rather than those of the people in power who don't have the interests of the people at heart. A former classmate of mine from Syracuse, Seth Kahn, mentioned to me tonight that rhetoric scholar Lee Artz wrote in a book about activist rhetorics that Seth co-edited that our job is not to "speak truth to power" because the powerful know the truth; the problem is that they don't care. The task facing us, he wrote, is to "speak power to truth." As Artz writes, "Rather than communicating with those in power who benefit from the already known truth of inequality, humanity could be better served by conversations for change among those who would benefit from creating new truths, new powers." This is what I hope is happening in Taiwan, and if it is happening and continues happening, I have hope for Taiwan.

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