We are encountering a nonprofit sector, the organizations that we are privileged to fund and do our work with and through, who are being stymied in their efforts to speak and exercise moral leadership, what they believe, the leadership that they must provide.

What does it mean to be “objective, neutral, non-political,” whatever term you want to use, in the context of a moment when people who oppose what you stand for are successfully defining your values as partisan, political values? A couple of years ago, you could not have had an argument with the science of climate change, but now for you to have an opinion on climate change is an opinion, not a scientific statement. To express that is a political statement, not a scientific statement.

What does that mean for the work of the social sector? What happens if you get to a point where, as a nonprofit organization that is not allowed to talk about politics, your opponents have successfully defined your mission as off-limits because it’s partisan? What can you talk about?

How can we decide when it is right to speak up?

The concept in Buddhism about “right speech” is that if you really want to engage in wholesome speech with people, you have to ask yourself five questions, and I’m going to come back to these in greater depth in a moment, but they’re, “Is it true,” “Is it kind,” “Is it beneficial,” “Can it be heard,” and, “Is now the time?”  That’s the sequence in which you ask the questions.

Read the full article on politicized facts at Stanford Social Innovation Review