A coward’s words on courage are no less true for the speaker’s cowardice. Speaking truth must lead to living it for the speaker to have integrity and for the speech to be believable, but speaking and living remain distinct challenges that should not be collapsed into one another.
Most of us are acutely sensitive to our shortcomings when it comes to living the truths we wish to voice, particularly those truths concerning love and giving and forbearance. So we don’t speak. We can’t, because we’re not living well enough.
Maybe we have confused the relationship between these two things. We posit living truth as a precondition to arguing for it, because we hate nothing more than a hypocrite who talks out the side of their face. But there’s a difference between preaching a truth you believe and struggle to embody and speaking a truth you think people want to hear but that you don’t actually believe. The former is aspiration. The latter is pandering.
What if there is a causal relationship between defending the truth we believe in public and following it in private? What if we can speak ourselves into truthful living?