Bully Movie — Teaching kids to keep it to themselves if it is not Kind, True or Necessary.
A few years ago, I was working with an amazing woman named Karen, who was very wise and calm. I was in awe of her. My friend Amy and I were working on a presentation for an adult leadership course we were teaching, and Karen was helping us.
Karen shared something her mom always said: “Don’t say anything unless it is kind, true, and necessary.”
I had never heard this one before. I had heard the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” but I liked this one better. It had meat on it. It really made you stop and think; which was the whole point. I later learned it might have come from the Greek Athenian philosopher, Socrates. I say might because there is some dispute over the actual origin of this philosophy. For me, it will always be from Karen’s mom.
Here is the Socrates connection:
SOCRATES’ TRIPLE FILTER TEST
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”
“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “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?”
“Well, no,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “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?
“Umm, no, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about my friend, 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 Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?
There is a lot of debate as to whether this was Socrates or not. Frankly, it does not matter. The point is Jack and I try to use it as a test for saying things.
Is it kind? True? Necessary? If it is not all three, we don’t say it.