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Archive for March 28th, 2010

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  161                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 146

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1094

After completing yesterday’s blog I decided to choose a “lighter” topic for today and intended to simply share with you some of the beach scenes along our route as we headed up the Florida coast.  However, as often happens I came across a thought provoking incident that lead the blog in a different direction.

Today our Director of Religious Education read an intriguing story to the children during our church service.  As Unitarians Universalists we look for wisdom and guidance in all of the faith traditions.  Today we were treated to an Islamic proverb entitled the triple filter.  The children, and many adults, in the congregation enjoyed the “props” that were used to demonstrate the lesson, various sizes of beans and various sieves.

Sunrise on the beach

After the lesson the children left the service for their RE classes and I got to thinking about the story’s lesson, especially given all of the accusation and attacks that seem to fill our daily news reports.  You see demonstrations of people shouting at congressmen, at the president and at each other.  Newspapers and talk radio shows are filled with anger, resentment and fear.  Many of these emotions are fueled by statements reported as fact or “the truth.”  I thought about the triple filter test and how it could and/or should be used by reporters, talk show hosts, ministers, elected officials, teachers and bloggers!  Here is the story:

The Triple Filter

During the golden Abbasid period, one of the scholars in Baghdad, the capital of Muslim caliphate at that time, was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great scholar and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“Hold on a minute,” the scholar replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?”

“That’s right,” the scholar continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”

“All right,” said the scholar. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?” “No, on the contrary…”

“So,” the scholar continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really!”

“Well,” concluded the scholar, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

* * * *

Deserted stretch of beach

I got to thinking about possible combinations of these three filters.  See what you think of these definitions:

Positive Feedback – Truthful, Positive and Useful to the person receiving it

 Negative Feedback – Truthful, Negative and Useful to the person receiving it

 Flattery or Encouragement – Truthful, Positive and Not Useful to the person

 Gossip – Truthful, Negative and Not Useful to the person receiving it

 Lies – Not Truthful, Negative and Not Useful to the person receiving it

 False Flattery – Not Truthful, Positive and Not Useful to the person receiving it

 Propaganda – Not Truthful, Negative and Useful for the person making the statement

A great blue heron

 It seems to me that we would like to think that news reporters, teachers and clergy would always strive to make sure they were speaking the “truth” or that they would refrain from speaking “opinions” as if they were truthful facts.  Sadly it seems that in far too many cases the potential “usefulness” of a statement is the determining factor in whether it is spoken.  For example recently Senator Scott Brown sent out a fund raising letter announcing that MSNBC TV talk show host Rachel Maddow was being recruited to run against him.  Ms. Maddow has repeatedly denied this statement and challenged Senator Brown on the falsehood of this point.  Senator Brown responded to a questions about why he had not check with Ms. Maddow about the truthfulness of this point by saying” “I did not realize that I had to check!”  He has since sent out a SECOND fund raising letter repeating the falsehood.  To me this smacks of Propaganda, for the falsehood is working to generate funds for Senator Brown’s campaign so what does the “truthfulness” matter.

Sunset on the Intercoastal Waterway

 I would challenge all of my readers to become more conscientious of the three filter test.  I plan to better filter my statements and if they fall in the last four categories to leave the thoughts unspoken.  I suspect the world would be a much better place if we all did the same!

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