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“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”― Franz Kafka How often have we told people what they want to hear, rather than speak our truth? During the process of writing my second book, there […]


Karen writes about how challenging it is to speak one’s truth. We often conflate truth with opinion. Truth is about how we each experience a particular phenomenon. It always stands in relationship to others and how they experience that phenomenon. Truth comes from the Germanic word tröth, which is taking a solemn pledge or undertaking. We enter into a relationship with someone and/or something e.g., marriage vows. Each peson comes to understand the meaning of the relationship and the pledge slightly differently.

We live in a world which is sometimes referred to as post-truth.. In my view, this just moral relativism dressed up differently and allows people to ignore the humanity of others who may disagree with them or are different than them. It becomes easy to say whatever we want to and claim we are being cancelled when someone disagrees. When used in this manner, truth becomes irrelevant and a buzz word.

Truth has taken on greater importance with the recent findings of unmarked graves at or close to residential schools for Indigenous children who were taken from their families and communities. Canada has a Truth and Reconciliation report related to the way Indienous peoples and communities were mistreated and that is a gentle word to describe the process. This includes the residential schools set up by the government and run by several christian demoninations. It is important to note truth comes before reconciliation. It is acknowledging the wrongs of the past, which is essential to reconciling, making whole and healing.

The reports logo is based on the 7 sacred teachings found in some form in North American Indigenous cultures: Truth, Humility, Honesty, Wisdom, Respect, Courage and Love. Although these teachings form the basis for North American Indigenous traditions and dialogue, one can find them, in some form, in other spiritiual teachings. They should form the ground on which we enter into relationships with others, the world, and what we hold sacred.

What draws me to Mary Oliver‘s poetry is the humility she invokes in questions she asks in certain poems. My favourite is The Summer Day where she concludes her questions with “what is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Truth is preceded by humility and accepting their will always be questions we cannot answer. Truth needs the other sacred teachings as life opens up with questions we cannot answer and full grasp.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

26 responses »

  1. Enjoyed “The Summer Day” as it really made me stop and think about what is important in life. I’m not certain I grasp your meaning of speaking the truth. So often I don’t express my true feelings as want to protect the feelings of the other person. Just a slightly confused grandma here.

    • That is part of it. I think Karen does a good job of laying that out. Often, we speak to avoid hurting feelings. That is legitimate when we are protecting someone’s feelings.

      Truth is always relational. You and I can experience the same phenomenon e.g. aging and beng grandparents, but how we experience them is different. There are overlapping features e.g., holding your grandchild for the first time. The differences are not an opinion, but how experienced being a grandparent in that moment and in that relationship.

      I don’t know if that helps make it clearer?

      • Maybe a little. We both may experience similar things but they mean different things to each of us. What it means to us is the real truth for us no matter what the other person experiences. Does that make any sense?

        Holding my grandson for the first time felt like pure love to me while someone else might feel anxiety for their future. Each person would see that event as holding a different truth.

      • That makes perfect sense. Yes, the pure love might even be mixed with anxiety. What does it mean to be a child in the 21st Century looks different than it did for me in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

        After I sent the first response, I thought about the truth behind residential schools (Indian Boarding Schools in the US). We have all been to school, but few of us have experienced being removed from our families, immediate and extended, and our communities, denied access to culture, traditions, and language as Indigenous people were. We have experienced school, but not the forced separation designed to “kill the Indian to save the child” and that was how it was phrased by the Canadian government.

  2. It’s very nice to see you here again. I am not sure who has been away, you or I? Hmm.

  3. Great post Ivon and ending with Mary Oliver is ‘perfect.’
    If we don’t question our life and our deepest truth, then who are we? 🙏🏻

  4. when it’s over, that assumes an ending, what they ought to teach, is where and what the Spirit is, and how you can acquire some, then you can marvel for ever, knowing today is just a step on the way, cheers

  5. Pingback: The Prairie – The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

  6. I’m also happy to re-read your words Ivon … I appreciate them … and these stick with me in the moment …”moral relativism dressed up differently and allows people to ignore the humanity of others who may disagree with them or are different than them.“…Sending you joy hedy ☺️💫

    • Thank you for the comment and joy Hedy. In the only special ed course I was alowedd to take, it was pointed out humans have far more in common with each other than what makes us different from one another. That stuck with me and helped guide my teaching and living.

      Take care and be well.

  7. Beautiful. Really appreciate the 7 sacred truths. Although I do believe truth is relative, there does seem to be some fundamental truths that are a fine basis for living.

  8. Pingback: The Prairie — The Good, Bad and Ludicrous | Teacher as Transformer

  9. I got into trouble once for stating “my truth.” Not all people know what that means. Had I stated it as “my opinion,” they wouldn’t have called me arrogant. I don’t pretend to know any whole truth, only the tiny fractal I observe and experience.


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