Here in the good old US of A we are engaged in what must be the most contentious presidential campaign in recent memory. While no one is challenging duels and recruiting their seconds (yet), the verbal assaults, still early in the process, are ramping up to historic levels. Through it all I am reminded of the sage advice concerning dissemination of gossip (read propaganda) most often attributed to Socrates: When you are about to share information concerning another ask yourself first, “is it true, is it kind, is it useful?”
“Is it true?” Did you personally verify that what you have heard is correct rather than merely re-posting something that fits your preconceived notions?
“Is it Kind?” Does what you are about to share show the person in a positive light or is it just ammunition to further an agenda of destruction?
“Is it useful?” Will the person receiving the information be able to use it to enhance his or her own life?”
How we accept and process information concerning another person speaks volumes about how we feel towards that person. Without regard to any expressed opinion to the contrary, our reaction to such revelations is always indicative of our true feelings. If we care about the person, the subject of a negative report, we will greet the information with skepticism and either dismiss it it or demand proof.
If, on the other hand, the unflattering information concerns someone we dislike, either overtly or secretly, we tend to welcome it and share it with others in order to enlist a mutual dislike for that person.
My candidate may very well be a paragon of virtue while yours is a dirty dealing opportunist bent on destroying the country for personal gain. Even so, this still does not give me the moral or ethical right to spread false or unverified negative propaganda concerning the person you have chosen to support.
In a perfect world the unvarnished truth would suffice to propel a person to the top. In that world it would still be incumbent upon each of us to verify and disseminate only that which we know to be the absolute truth.
Unfortunately following the dictates of Socrates requires effort, suspension of preconceptions and an abandonment of hidden agendas.
And so let the politics of personal destruction run rampant, allow the knees to continue to jerk and when this political season is over we can all go back to sniping at our friends and neighbors in order to stay in practice.
Personally, I’m voting for the other guy.