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The truth shall set you free.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Everyone of these oft-repeated phrases are oft-repeated because we value truth and truth-telling. Chicanery, shenanigans, subterfuge, duplicity, deception, and lying are all vices to be shunned. We who would keep abreast of truth cannot truck with distortions meant to obfuscate and garble truth.
There is, however, an acceptable third way between unvarnished truth and the outright and intentionally deceptive tongue of chicanery and shenanigan. None other than Emily Dickinson herself offered this third way. There is wisdom worth considering in her aphoristic line “Tell the truth, but tell it slant.”
Let me digress a moment.
Human beings are fragile. We are vulnerable. One word from a loved and respected peer, mentor, friend, or elder can break our heart, damage our psyche, unsettle our soul. Though the word spoken may be true doesn’t mitigate the pain.
I am one who believes that there in fact is an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness endowed by our Creator – the very one who encouraged us to “not live in fear, for it has pleased Her to give us the kindom.” I try my darndest not to do anything to do damage to the fragile hearts, psyches, and souls of my fellow human beings. We deserve our time of joy and satisfaction – and the world is going to inflict its pain and sorrow on us in buckets. I don’t want to add to that.
Now, back to the truth – and our obligation to speak it.
There are some truths that, when spoken, will do immediate damage. This is where Emily’s wisdom makes so much sense to me. Tell that truth, if you must, but tell it slant.
Mitigate the pain and diminish the damage.
Let not the good of honoring truth produce the bad of a broken spirit.
Let kindness be our guide. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, and after that speak so as to first do no harm. We are caregivers and caretakers of each other’s mental and spiritual health. If truth we must speak, then tell the truth, but tell it slant on this, our journey Into the Mystic.