Sometimes you have to love Facebook. Yesterday I posted a note regarding the spreading of innuendo and rumor about people. I quoted Marcus Aurelius and Socrates’s three filters.
Marcus Aurelius is quoted as having said, “If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.”
Good advice, but how often is it not followed when it involves personal information about someone? So often gossip is not true, but even if it is true, it should not be said if it is not good. Socrates used a triple filter test.
When a friend came to Socrates with a juicy bit of gossip, Socrates replied, “Before you tell me this bit of gossip, will it pass my triple filter test? First of all, what you are about to tell me, is it true?” The man replied that he was not sure; he had heard it but could not verify its truthfulness. Socrates continued by saying, “You want to tell me some gossip but you are not positive that it is true.” “Well,” said Socrates, “Is what you are about to tell me good?” “No,” the man replied, “it certainly is not good.” “So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something that may not be true and it certainly is not good. Let us give this bit of gossip the final of the three filter tests: Is what you are about to tell me going to be useful to me?” Again the man had to confess that no, it would not be useful to Socrates. So, in his wisdom, Socrates then said, “Well, if you are not sure it is true, you know it is not good, and you tell me that it will not be useful to me, why then tell it to me?”
If only each of us would use this triple filter test when someone comes to us with a juicy bit of gossip, it certainly would stop gossip right in its tracks.
Out of the blue I received a comment from a student I taught and mentored almost 30 years ago… John Dawson, from Woodlands HS in NY. When I asked him how he was doing this was his reply:
“I’m well, truly blessed. I have a “my cup runneth over” type of good fortune. I work about 100x harder than I did in HS, and perhaps too much, but I love it.
From time to time I look at your review of my Wise Project and smile at how you flagged the need to ensure avoidance of the “Angry Young Man” syndrome
— which I conquered by junior year of college. After which time it was all Dean’s List and an evolved perspective.
You may not recall but I stapled the Selective Service letter to my Wise Journal and told them over the phone that I would not send in this vestigial remnant of the Vietnam War as I took issue with our nation’s foreign and domestic policies …
Fast forward to early 1999, when I was having my “perfunctory” character and fitness interview for admission to the NY State Bar. First question I get from this wise geezer is “Why in 1989 did you say you would not support this country’s Constitution?”
As much as I wanted to clarify my original statement and sentiment (“3/5ths of a man, anyone? Oliver North drugs for guns, anyone?), I told the truth and said my statements at that time were of a 17-year old boy, and that my views had evolved and I would now uphold the Constitution unflinchingly.”
Then I asked him how that all worked out and here is his reply.
“I was at Hogan & Hartson for 7 years, my oral advocacy mentor was current Chief Justice, John Roberts, who was head of our Supreme Court & Appellate Litigation practice …. One of my colleagues in the NYC office was current Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, who was super nice and super
I eventually left to focus my practice on intellectual property, representing wineries and other alc. beverage producers. I head up the IP group at a 20-lawyer firm in Northern California, in the Russian River Valley. What can I say, I love wine! So while the best of my peers went into public service, I hang out and taste test wines all day in wine country … A very selfish existence. ;)”
A very good decision I think… Easier to avoid angry old man syndrome.