The Powerful Fourth Gate

I just read a blog by my friend Jennifer Huber, The Three Gates of Speech. There is a lot to her blog, and if you are not familiar with The Picture and resulting controversy, let me take you right to the end advice.

Jen says:

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To sum it up: Yes, you have opinions. Opinions are not hard truths. They may be true to you because you believe them to be true. This does not mean that you have the right or duty to beat others over the head with your “truth”.
Use the Three Gates to check your words for truenecessary and kind. This world needs more kindness and less opinions wielded as bludgeons.
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This is good guidance. I will concede that I’m all for true, generally. I freely admit that I stumble on necessary and kind at times. I know as I cross those lines that it would be better for everyone if I didn’t- yet I let my own foolish momentum carry me across a goal line that I shouldn’t be in a hurry to get to.
Lately however, I’ve discovered a fourth gate. And it’s pretty powerful.
At the risk of sounding childish, I’ll just get it out there: I write out my nasty reply, and then pause. I marvel at my wit, and the sheer awesomeness of the slam I’m about to lay down on the target of my disagreement. I smile in appreciation of my own  powers of reason and persuasion… then I hit DELETE. I do not GIVE my words to the other person. I DENY them.
This is where you’re thinking “so what? That is exactly what Jen is recommending with The Three Gates”.  Nah- there’s more going on here for me.
The Fourth Gate: after I have typed it all out, after I custom-created an awesome, scathing response specifically tailored for one person, I rob them the privilege of my words. I judge them unworthy of my time and my verbal output. I deny them ME.
You’ll get nothing and like it.
So the virtuous results of The Three Gates are achieved, but NOT for virtuous reasons. I made you something, and it was awesome. And then I destroyed it before you could see it.
One example- I have exercised The Fourth Gate on every political candidate out there lately, and you cannot imagine how truly incredible my unsent remarks and rants have been. Sailors would blush, and my mother would be ashamed. Yet I saw it all, and it felt damn good to stare at it for a little bit before committing it to the Great Recycle Bin in the Mystical Ether. Those asshats didn’t deserve my words. My words are too good for them.
I would rather destroy my words than share those words with THEM, yet I needed the words to come out. It would seem that simply typing out what I need to say sometimes is actually more important than sending it. It’s cathartic, even if it’s a little strange.
Jen is right that we can do with more civility. The Fourth Gate is my suggestion for my fellow failed souls that can’t master The Three Gates.

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