This story has been accredited to Socrates, although the original source may have been someone else.  Either way it’s a great tale that gives us some helpful hints on how to better deal with those who gossip and how to stop ourselves from spreading rumours as well.

One day, a student came up to the great philosopher.  “Socrates, I have just heard some news about one of your friends.”  he excitedly exclaimed.

“Before you tell me this news, we need to make sure that it passes the triple filter test,” responded Socrates.

“What’s the triple filter test?” the man asked.

“The first test is that of truth.  Tell me, do you know that what you’re going to tell me is absolutely true?”  asked Socrates.

After thinking for a moment, the man said, “I heard this news from someone else, so I’m not 100% sure if it’s true.”

“The second test is that of goodness,” Socrates continued, “Is what you’re about to tell me something good?”

“No, actually it’s the opposite…”

Socrates interrupted the man, “So what you’re going to tell me is neither true, nor good?”

The man was slightly embarrassed and shrugged his shoulders.

Socrates continued, “There is one final test which is usefulness.  Is what you’re about to tell me going to be useful?”

“Probably not,” the man replied.

“Well, if you’re going to tell me something that’s not true, good or useful, then why tell me at all?” responded the philosopher.

I’m sure that we’ve all indulged in a bit of gossip from time-to-time.  We all come across salacious information occasionally that we feel compelled to pass on to others. 

The next time you do, pass the information through the triple filter test to see if you really should be telling others.

Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out, without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

Let’s be peace-makers, not trouble-makers.

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