Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
Is it TRUE?
Is it NECESSARY?
Is it KIND?”
On any given Sunday, that’s pretty sound advice. But in our current communication climate, it might just be a survival-level skillset. When the dust settles, we always stand responsible for what we did & said. Or didn’t do or say. We will answer…if only to the mirror…for who we decide to be right now. I’ve often heard it said that alcohol, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say “drunkenness,” is an amplifier. Happy folks get happier, mean folks get meaner, sad folks…well you get it. Seems like crisis has a similar effect. For better or worse, the past year has given us a good glimpse of who we are.
With us all a little energetically “louder” it’s hard to miss. A neighbor when I was growing up had a tile trivet hanging in her kitchen that said “Women are like tea bags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” But I’d expand that to say you learn a whole bunch more than that. Hanging at home trying to stay busy/distracted after work or INSTEAD of work? Just sit for a bit and “stare at your navel.” Or better yet, write about how you’ve been showing up to yourself and others since virus started hitting the fan. If this concept of self reflection and responsibility doesn’t resonate for you, this conversation is likely not your jam, so might just wanna just stop right here.
I’ve dug that 3-gate thing since first I heard it. I think some mistakenly attribute it as a buddhist saying. That’s what I initially heard, but turns out it’s not. Anyhow. I couldn’t care less (yes, it’s “couldn’t” – this little rural Indiana gal didn’t learn that until college neither). Wisdom is wisdom regardless of the source. Been thinking about this one a lot recently and thought I’d expand it out a little as applied to these times. For the sake of practicality and to help myself stay mindful. Okay, here goes.
IS IT TRUE? Well, that can be a hard rabbit to chase these days. Especially since the revocation of “The Fairness Doctrine” in 1987. In short, it had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. And we all know what’s come of that. I know lots of us are wanting to share information with each other and that many are getting most of their “news” from their social media news feeds. That’s fine, but if you want to honor this gate, I recommend vetting any story you think of sharing with at least a couple other outlets…preferably at least one of which is opposite leaning from your go-to. With that, I’ll also say (as I have before) that if you are getting your info consistently from just one source, it is very likely you are ill/mis-informed. No matter the outlet. #youcanquotemeonthat So do what you can to see that what you are broadcasting is TRUE.
IS IT NECESSARY? Now that one’s pretty dang subjective. What constitutes “necessary?” That’s why you have to dig deep on this one…’cause it’s between you and you to decide. And maybe another thing to ask is “for whom is it necessary?” There’s not really a wrong answer here…maybe you feel it’s necessary to share certain info or perspective you have. Necessary to call bullshit on what you see as misinformation or destructive/decisive language. Maybe it’s just necessary for you to vent about something (in your opinion, lol.) But here’s what I’ll say. If you’re in a quandary about this question, maybe it’s best to just skip to the next.
IS IT KIND? And while that’s plenty strong as-is, I’m going to offer an alternate for this one relative to our current climate. IS IT HELPFUL? Now that’s not to say these are mutually exclusive. You can, of course, usually be kind and helpful. And I suppose “kindness” is a bit open to interpretation. You know, like is it “kind” to tell someone they have bad breath? Some would say yes, some no. I know, that’s a rather simplified example, but it’s enough fodder for extrapolation. So that’s why I offer “HELPFUL” as an option here. Before you open your mouth, click those keys or tap that screen keyboard…is what you are about to share helpful? And I don’t mean as in “they sure need to by-god hear what I have to say!” Because let’s face it, you’re not gonna change anybody’s mind that way. At worst, you are contributing to energetic division and at best you’re preaching to the choir.
Do I have opinions? You bet your sweet bippy. About pretty much any topic you can field. And I don’t shy away from sharing them. But I try (and fail sometimes) to do so without the need to challenge anyone else’s perspective or shame anyone for seeing a matter differently. It might just make a difference, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you start out standing alone and end up there too. But if you feel strongly…just keep standing.
Out of necessity.