Officer Harry Dunn on Truth-Telling

"Telling the truth shouldn't be hard," said Officer Harry Dunn as he testified about his experience in defending the United States Capitol and everyone gathered there on January 6, 2021. Today, December 6, 2022, Harry Dunn received a Congressional Gold Medal for his courage and valor in defending our democracy on that terrible January day.

Officer Harry Dunn has also become a voice of inspiration in his advocacy for honesty in our body politic. "With transparency comes accountability," he said today. He was deeply moved and humbled to receive the Gold Medal, Congress's highest honor. "No one," he said, "is going to steal my joy in this day."

Thanks be to God for Harry Dunn.

Defending our democracy from violent insurrectionists was hard, Officer Dunn has told us. Going back to his job the next day, and the next, and all the days since, he has told us, that was hard.

Yet telling the truth, he also tells us, "shouldn't be hard." Amen, Harry Dunn!

As we read in Ephesians 4:25, "So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another." In our current society, however, telling the truth is so hard that people often refuse to even consider telling it. Ever. Even when the truth has power to bring healing to human relationships and communities. Even when truth-telling would prevent the start of a war, international or domestic. Even when telling the truth would heal planet earth, instead of destroy it.

Dr. Theodore O. Wedel, 20th century biblical scholar, pastor, and preacher, responds to Ephesians 4:25 by asking,

"Why is putting away falsehood a difficult virtue? To reveal oneself to another human being involves opening windows into secret chambers. We are prevented from self-revelation, which is involved in speaking truth, by pride and shame."

In the presence of grace and love, Wedel proposes, we no longer need to "protect [our] egotism with lies." We can "surrender [our] fortress of pride and can confess [our] faults.... What mountains of snobbery and sham, of heartbreak, masking behind worldly pretense, would melt" if in the light of divine grace, we could allow the truth to set us free.

Truth-telling is hard because it requires that we have the courage to look at what we have been hiding from ourselves and what benefits this hiding buys for us.

By God's grace even now at work within us, can we gather the courage to look into our own "secret chambers"?


Interpreter's Bible, vol.10, p.700, Abingdon: Nashville, 1953, 1978.