When we have a close look at how elections currently evolve and how politics in general operate, or how we find ourselves in a constant state of communication through the various digital platforms that we have at our disposal, we can fairly state that we lost awareness of the power of our words. Superfluous words may easily lead to careless use of words. Words may cause irreparable sorrow to others, words may lead to great malice, or indeed, may cause wars!
We quote from the Letter to James:
‘If any one makes no mistakes in what he says, he is a perfect man,
able to bridle the whole body also.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses that they may obey us, we guide their whole bodies.
Look at the ships also; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds,
they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire.
The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members,
staining the whole body and setting it on fire.’ [James 3:2-6]
The Greek philosopher Socrates, too, gave intrusive hints to exercise caution when speaking.
He is the source of the following story about ‘The three sieves’.
‘One day, Socrates walked the streets of Athens and came upon a man who said:
‘Socrates, I should tell you about your friend who…’
‘Wait a minute,’ Socrates interrupted him, ‘before telling me anything.
Did you filter the story you are about to tell me through the three sieves?’
‘The three sieves? Which three sieves?’ the amazed man asked.
‘Let’s try it,’ Socrates proposed.
‘The first sieve is Truth.
Have you made sure that what you are about to tell me is true?’
‘No,’ the man said hesitatingly, ‘I actually didn’t. On the contrary,…’
‘All right! Then it certainly passed through the second sieve, the sieve of Goodness.
Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?’
‘No, on the contrary,’ the man said hesitatingly.
‘All right,’ the philosopher said. ‘Let’s then use the third sieve.
Is it necessary to tell me what excites you so strongly?’
‘No, not really,’ the man replied.
‘Well,’ Socrates concluded smiling, ‘if what you want to tell me
is neither true nor good nor even necessary, forget it, and do not bother me with it at all.’
You’re very welcome at this class on what ‘speaking’ really is and how it affects our inner and outer life! It will take place from 16:00 to 18:00 on Friday 8th March in The Teaching Rooms, No. 6 Sidney Place, Wellington Road, Cork.
Doors open 15 minutes before the start of an activity with coffee/tea. On street parking is available.