Don’t turn all your tools into weapons

i sing sometimes like my life is at stake ‘cause you’re only as loud  as the noises you make…….i sing sometimes for the war that i fight ’cause every tool is a weapon – if you hold it right.
-Ani Difranco

I think most people who read this blog are fighting some battle or other. Maybe it’s a battle for justice, on behalf of many. Maybe it’s a principle. Maybe it’s mostly your own life you’re fighting for. One way or another, I think most of you are fighting.

And the thing about fighting is, it’s *hard*, and it wears you down.

And some of you are fighting more or less alone, or with limited support. And you have to take your weapons where you can find them.

Maybe it’s your words. Maybe it’s your affect. Maybe it’s your hands. Maybe it’s relationships. There are all kinds of things. And it’s important; you have to take weapons where you can find them.

And every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. And when you’re fighting, and looking for weapons, it’s possible to start seeing everything as a weapon first and foremost. That’s dangerous. It can destroy you.

If you see everything as a weapon , it can be hard to use tools in other ways. There will be times when you have to fight, there are times when hurting people is unavoidable. But when fighting is the center of your life and all your tools become weapons, it can cost you absolutely everything you care about.

Even when you really need weapons; sometimes especially when you really need weapons.

When all you have is a hammer, then all problems look like nails… But it works in reverse too. If all your problems look like nails, all of your tools will like like hammers. It works that way with weapons, too. If you see everything in terms of physical or social struggle and violence, it’s hard to see your tools as anything but weapons. And that can end up costing you everything you care about.

You have to fight the fights; but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do.

Your hands can make fists. Sometimes you have to make fists; sometimes you have to fight. But don’t let the people you’re fighting make you forget that they can also make bread. Or whatever else. Hands can do many things, and the fight is necessary, but it’s not enough. Don’t let your enemies deprive you of all the other uses of your hands.

Similarly – Your words can be weapons, you can use them to hurt people when it’s needed, and to assert power when power is what’s need. But don’t let them make all of your words into weapons. Because you need them for other things too. Words aren’t just for tearing down oppressors. They’re also for honoring people you respect. They’re also for love. They’re also for telling stories.

You’re probably singing sometimes like your life is at stake. But don’t forget that you can also sing love songs. When you’re singing like your life is at stake, make sure that you don’t forget to value your life as an end in itself. Don’t make your whole self into a weapon.

Don’t forget that patterns and beauty and love exist, and that we can build worthwhile things even in this messed up world. Life is worth fighting for; it is also worth living.