Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Test of Three

Socrates came upon an acquaintance that ran up to him excitedly and said, “Do you know what I just heard about one of your students?” “Just a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Test of Three. “The first test is Truth. Are you sure that what you will say is true? “Oh no,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it.”
“So you don’t really know if it’s true, Socrates said. Now let’s try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?” “No, on the contrary..” “So,” Socrates interrupted, “you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true?” The man shrugged, rather embarrassed.
Socrates continued. “You may still pass though, because there is a third test, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me at all?” “Well it, not really..” “Well, concluded Socates, “If what you want to tell me is neither True nor good nor ever Useful, why tell it to me at all?” The man was defeated and ashamed.
This is the reason Socrates was held in such high esteem. It also explains why he never found out what Plato was up to.
Thanks to A Parenthesis, the blog that had this as well as other jokes on the site!

When I was a kid my mom used to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I'm sure this is a refrain that has been heard by many children over the years.
image via

You may have also heard, or said yourself, that "Kids can be really cruel. Sometimes they say the most hurtful things."

Does any of this sound familiar?

What I wonder is why that lesson we learned when we were children seems to disappear from many adults' rules of etiquette?

How many times have you had a 'friend' tell you something...that goes something like this: "Lisa, you wouldn't believe what (insert name) has been saying. She/He is telling people/saying that you ....." and so it goes. Or worse, in that very moment they choose to tell you that someone is talking about you, they also choose not to tell you who has been saying these horrible things, just that they are being said.
Essentially it is a supposedly well meaning colleague or friend who feels it is necessary to tell you about something they've just heard someone else saying about you.

And guess what? I've done it too! I've thought that it was crucial that the person know what someone is saying about them. Luckily, in the last few years, I've finally begun to get 'mature,' and rethink that attitude.

If the information is something that will only hurt the person, there is nothing they can do about it, and if the only purpose that is served by telling someone is that they are hurt and confused, I choose not to share. It's weird, but sometimes I feel like I am not being a 'good friend' and I am keeping a secret. But, if I'm really such a good friend, maybe I don't need to disclose everything?

Now, I'm not prepared to get into a debate about other issues, like seeing my friend's husband out with another woman. That isn't a hearsay kind of event. I'm talking about those things we hear second hand and feel that we need to share.

So, I'm glad I found this humourous post on A Parenthesis. Even is it is a joke with a punchline, I think I'll do the Truth, Goodness and Usefulness test next time I'm not sure. I've been doing fairly well, but I can always use a little help on my path to 'maturity'!

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