What if everyone performed the simple ‘Three Sieves Test’ before speaking out? Many possibilities, but for sure the world would be a more peaceful and silent place.
Once upon a time in ancient Greece, one of the acquaintances of the great philosopher Socrates came up to him and said: “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”
“Hold on a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me, I would like to perform a simple test. It is called the ‘Three Sieves Test.’ ”
“The ‘Three Sieves Test?’ ”
“Yes. Before you say a word about my student, take a moment to reflect carefully on what you wish to say by pouring your words through three special sieves.”
“The first sieve is the Sieve of Truth. Are you absolutely sure, without any doubt, that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“Well, no, I’m not. Actually I heard it recently and…”
“Alright,” interrupted Socrates. “So you don’t really know whether it is true or not. Then let us try the second sieve: the Sieve of Goodness. Are you going to tell me something good about my student?”
“Well…no,” said his acquaintance. “On the contrary…”
“So you want to tell me something bad about him,” questioned Socrates, “even though you are not certain if it is true or not?”
“You may still pass the test though,” said the Socrates, “because there is a third sieve: the Sieve of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”
“No. Not so much.” said the man resignedly.
Finishing the lesson, Socrates said: “Well, then, if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor useful, why bother telling me at all?”