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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Harper

Socrates Sieves

In Ancient Greece, Socrates had a great reputation of wisdom. One day, someone came to find the great philosopher and said to him:

“Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

A moment later, Socrates replied. “Before you tell me, I would like to test you by the three sieves.”

“The three sieves?”

“Yes”, continued Socrates. “Before telling anything about the others, it's good to take the time to filter what you mean. I call it the test of the three sieves. The first sieve is the TRUTH. Have you checked if what you're going to tell me is true?”

“No, I just heard it.”

“Very good! So, you don't know if it's true. We continue with the second sieve, that of KINDNESS. What you want to tell me about my friend, is it kind to them?”

“Oh, no! On the contrary.”

“So”, questioned Socrates, “you want to tell me bad things about him and you're not even sure they're true? Maybe you can still pass the test of the third sieve, that of UTILITY. Is it useful that I know what you're going to tell me about this friend?”

“No, really.”

“So”, concluded Socrates, “what you were going to tell me may not be true, certainly is not kind, nor useful. Why, then, did you want to tell me this?”

Gossip is a bad thing. In the beginning it may seem enjoyable and fun, but in the end, it fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us, too!

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear… Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4.29, 31-32)

*Not an actual story about Socrates

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