温蒂?凡德尔(Wendy Fandl)见过许多孩子在缺乏大人引导的环境下长大,这些孩子经常彼此说些刻薄伤人的话,而且往往不假思索就脱口而出。在如今崇尚说闲话的流行文化影响下,孩子们似乎比他们的上一辈更喜欢讽刺挖苦。


  'Kids are struggling,' says Ms. Fandl, who oversees an after-school program at Community Presbyterian Church in Delhi, Calif. 'They're looking for answers.'


  凡德尔说,孩子们无所适从,他们在寻找答案。她在加州Delhi市的社区基督教长老会(Community Presbyterian Church)负责一项儿童课外活动。


  She suggests that before they say something to or about someone else, they should ask themselves: 'Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?'




  These three questions have been around for centuries, attributed to Socrates and Buddhist teachings, and linked to the tenets of Christianity and the Jewish prohibition on 'lashon hara,' or evil language. But now, in an age of cultural shrillness and unrestrained rumor-mongering on the Internet, these three questions (or variations of them) are finding new adherents. In schools, workplaces, churches, therapy groups -- and at kitchen tables -- the questions are being used to temper one of the uglier human impulses.


  这三个问题是数百年来的智慧结晶,包含着苏格拉底(Socrates)、佛教和基督教的教诲,以及犹太人关于“邪恶的舌头”(lashon hara)的戒条。然而,在当今这个崇尚刻薄文化的时代,在这个可以通过互联网肆无忌惮传播流言的时代,这三个问题(或由此衍生的东西)有了新的实际应用意义。在学校、工作场所、教堂、治疗组织──甚至在家中的餐桌旁──三原则都可以用来抑制人类较为丑恶的本性之一。


  In Hartford, Conn., Trinity College recently held an event at which students and faculty discussed derogatory language and the power behind the kind/true/necessary mantra. In Chicago, Empower Public Relations issued a company-wide ban on gossip, firing three employees who violated the policy in 2007. In Boulder, Colo., Samuel Avital, a well-known mime artist who studied with Marcel Marceau, incorporates into his performances and teachings the idea that every word we utter should pass through 'three gates,' each with a gatekeeper asking . . . well, you know the three questions.


  在康涅狄格州的哈特福德市,美国三一学院(Trinity College)最近举行了一个活动,让学生和老师一起讨论刻薄话的问题,以及坚守善意/真实/必要三原则的意义。芝加哥一家公关公司Empower Public Relations在全公司范围禁止传播流言,并自2007年来开除了三名违反禁令的员工。在科罗拉多州Boulder市,师从法国世界级滑稽剧大师马歇 ?马叟(Marcel Marceau)的滑稽剧演员塞缪尔?阿维塔(Samuel Avital)也在表演中融入并表达了这一理念,即嘴里说出的每个字都要经过“三道门”,每道门都要经过一个问题的考验……至于是哪些问题就无需重复了吧。


  Though it is gaining traction, this antigossip push can sound quaint, especially in a nation that nonchalantly lost millions of hours in productivity last month chattering about Tiger Woods. But kind/true/necessary proponents say that the very pervasiveness of trash talk makes it even more imperative that we deal with the issue.


  虽然反对流言蜚语的努力正得到越来越多的关注,但这种举动听上去有点古怪,尤其是在美国这个地方:2009年12月,大家热情洋溢地讨论老虎?伍兹(Tiger Woods)的桃色新闻,耽搁了数百万小时的工作时间而不自知。不过,善意/真实/必要三原则的支持者表示,说闲话的普遍性愈加表明我们应对这一问题的紧迫性和必要性。


  WordsCanHeal.org, an advocacy group created to combat 'verbal violence,' has amassed a long list of well-known advisers, including Tom Cruise, John McCain and Barry Diller. The group asks all of us to take a pledge that includes the following: 'I will try to replace words that hurt with words that encourage, engage and enrich.'


  非盈利组织WordsCanHeal.org的创办宗旨是对抗“语言暴力”,并已召集很多知名人士作为组织的咨询顾问,包括影星汤姆?克鲁斯(Tom Cruise)、参议员约翰?麦凯恩(John McCain)和媒体巨子巴里?迪勒(Barry Diller)。该组织号召每个人都作出如下保证:我要尽量不说伤人的话,而是说一些鼓励、支持和正面的话。


  This message is also taught, along with the three questions, at St. Joseph's Episcopal School in Boynton Beach, Fla. 'It's always around fifth grade when students start calling each other names,' says Mary Aperavich, director of admissions. As part of a campaign against gossiping, students made tiles for the school's courtyard, spelling out the words 'No Gossip.'


  佛罗里达州Boynton Beach的圣约瑟教会学校(St. Joseph's Episcopal School)也在灌输这三大原则。“差不多上到五年级左右时,学生就开始互相起绰号。”招生主管玛丽?艾贝瑞维奇(Mary Aperavich)说道。作为反对传播流言蜚语活动的组成部分,学生们在操场上用瓷砖贴了一个标语:不传是非。


  Other academics also question the potency, and even the legitimacy, of the kind/true/necessary mantra. Efforts to stifle gossip may be naive and limiting, says Susan Hafen, a professor of communication at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. In her research, she has found that workplace gossip often serves a positive function. For instance, it helps people conform: When we gossip about someone who got fired, we learn what happens to people who break the rules.


  不过,也有一些学者质疑善意/真实/必要三原则的有效性甚至合理性。犹他州Ogden市韦伯州立大学(Weber State University)传媒学教授苏珊?哈芬(Susan Hafen)说,抑制流言蜚语的努力似乎有些天真和片面。她在研究中发现,工作场所的流言蜚语往往能起到一定的正面作用。比如说,它能让人检点自己的行为。当人们闲扯某人被开除的事情时,能从中了解不守规矩带来的恶果。


  At the same time, gossip is a social interaction. 'Is it kind? Is it necessary? Those are good questions,' says Dr. Hafen. 'But it would be a boring world if we always had to tiptoe around, being kind. For one thing, we wouldn't be able to tell any jokes.'




  More seriously, she says, prohibiting gossip that isn't 'kind' may be a way of 'avoiding unpleasantness, of fence-sitting, of not rocking the boat. If we only tell kind stories about people, then we may be avoiding holding people responsible for their actions.'


  哈芬表示,更严重的是,禁止说伤人的闲话也许可以避免伤感情,算是一种谁都不得罪的骑 方式,也不会破坏团结,但如果只说别人的好话,可能就是在回避让人们为自己的行为承担责任。


  Concert flutist Linda Chatterton acknowledges this argument, but says she sees only positives in embracing the concept of kind/true/necessary in both her personal and professional life. She teaches flute students near her home in Minneapolis, and when she has to criticize their performances, she tries to be mindful of her own motivation.


  一个交响乐团的长笛演奏者琳达?查特顿 (Linda Chatterton)同意这个说法,但也表示,在自己的个人和职业生活中,她只看到了坚持善意/真实/必要三原则所带来的好处。她在明尼苏达州明尼阿波利斯市(Minneapolis)的住所附近教学生吹长笛,当她不得不批评学生的吹奏水平时,会尽量注意批评的动机。


  'A lot of professional musicians haven't had great teachers,' she says. 'I want to make sure that I'm being helpful and supportive, while giving honest feedback.' In certain ways, she says, there's a link between gossiping and inappropriate teaching. 'When people gossip, they're jockeying for social position at the expense of those they're talking about. There are teachers who try to tear other people down in order to build themselves up. I try not to criticize unnecessarily just to make myself feel better.'




  Some people say they supplement the kind/true/necessary questions with other 'filters': Is it hurtful? Is it fair? Is it useful? Is it harmless? Will it improve on the silence?