“Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.”

Ani Difranco sang this, in that sly way she has, glancing at you out of the corner of the song and suggesting something crazy and true.

Switching popular culture gears a bit, remember that episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte frantically insists “I CHOOSE MY CHOICE! I CHOOSE MY CHOICE!” and that was feminism? (Sidenote: can you believe there is no GIF of this? It seems like an oversight, internet.)

Once upon a time, I was having a somewhat deep conversation with someone and this person kept saying, with increasing degrees of intensity, “I just have to speak my truth, you know. I speak my truth. It’s not my problem what happens after if I just speak my truth. I SPEAK MY TRUTH!” I started having Charlotte flashbacks.

As the person was saying this, I was inching back in my chair.

Because the way it was said made me picture someone, say Mel Gibson in blue body paint, galloping into battle with a sword emblazoned with the words “TRUTH” on it.

It also made me think of how opposite it was to that maxim: The Truth Will Set You Free.

This person did not look or sound free. This person looked like they were handcuffed to a ten thousand pound boulder they had to keep hefting up into other people’s faces to prove how free they were.

Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. Or wrong, in this case.

I am all about knowing, living, and speaking your truth. I am all about being honest with yourself and others, having integrity around your words and actions, and making sure what you do is in alignment with who you are.

I am not about wielding that truth like a weapon, waving it around like a ticking time bomb, holding it over someone’s head, threatening people with it. This seems like a good message for the holiday season, when we’re all thrown together, in groups with varying levels of comfort and ease with one another.

A light example: I don’t eat meat. If I go to someone’s house for a nice holiday gathering and all they have it meat, I don’t turn into the PETA police and start screaming about meat being murder, and how they are destroying the environment and themselves with their culinary choices and how dare you make me complicit in that.  I just don’t eat the meat. That is truth enough.

A less light example: If I’m around someone who is behaving in a completely disrespectful manner toward me–discounting me, my beliefs, my work, my firmly held opinion that a remake of SportsNight with David Walton and John Krasinski is one of the best things that could happen to this country–then I don’t have to declare war on them and take a scorched earth policy and tell them why and how they are not only so heinously wrong but also an offense to that all that is human and sacred.

(In fact, I am proud to say there are only a couple people I am not talking to at the moment, all of them of the “I SPEAK MY TRUTH” like-a-fist-in-the-face types. )

Nope, I find it better to engage with them lightly, or not at all. A simple statement or expression of boundaries is usually truth enough.

I find that most people (myself included) who have had a problem with wielding the truth like a weapon are people who are having some trying-to-recover-my-boundary issues. There is a little bit of exploding doormat about them/us.

Other people (like the truth punchers I mentioned above), who wield their truth like a weapon, are downright sociopathic and you should just bravely run away from them as quickly as possible, a la Sir Robin. 

You can even be funny about it. One of my favorite people used to do this thing, when she would have a little bit to drink, and then she would operatically sing “Truuuuuuth Serummmmmm!” and then drop some knowledge on us. But the thing was, it never felt like an attack, it was always a truth about her, about her feelings, about herself, about a situation she was involved in. I can’t remember an instance where she used the song of truth serum to call someone else out, or worse, make them feel shitty about something. It was always this really lovely, hilarious thing she did. She embodied how to hold and express truth lightly and with integrity.

Bottom line: Hold your truth lightly and stick to yourself, and see how much less it weighs you down.