Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gossip Is and Isn't

Gossip is bad; that's what everyone seems to say.  I beg to differ.  There was a time when I was in emotional angst for four years because of what a certain person did to me.  Four years!  Then one day in conversation I overhead a piece of juicy gossip that blew those four years of angst to dust.

I didn't know.  It seems it was an open secret that everyone knew, but me.  If I had known I wouldn't have resented, and at times even hated this person.  Wow!  And of course I know that you never know what people are going through until you walk a mile in their shoes.  That's such an abstract concept that it's trite.

I still am shocked and it's been a few years since that knowledge was revealed to me.  So is gossip bad?  I contend that the hearers or readers never know and are not to judge.  Only the person telling knows what's inside their heart--their intention.  Telling that a young girl is pregnant may be gossip if you are trying to hurt that girl's reputation; it is not if you are explaining why she should be treated carefully.

In America, Vol. 211 No. 17, WHOLE NO. 5071, December 1, 2014, p. 5, there is an editorial "The Tyranny of Talk," exhorting people to speak with charity, not gossip.  The article begins with a quote from Oscar Wilde's play "Lady Windermere's Fan:"

"What is the difference between scandal and gossip?" Lord Windermere asks.
"Oh, gossip is charming!"  Graham replies.  "History is merely gossip.  But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality."

That's not my definition at all.  Gossip may be hurtful.  If a secret helps the hearer to be more compassionate only then the gossip is a good (noun).  The Pope's remarks regarding gossip are referring to the usual meaning of the word, gossip.  He actually calls gossipers "Christian murderers."

Actually, in my thoughts I was the Christian murderer, until I heard the gossip.

I think the English language has failed in this "gossip" concept.  It is difficult to coin a new word however, because the intent of the gossiper (help or hurt) is only known to himself.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

Until then, stop gossipping about gossip!  The term is loaded with negative connotations and I don't think that's right. Let's rethink what we say and do.  "Will this information I am passing on help or hurt?"  If I don't know, test the waters before you do either.  To pass it on may be divinely inspired, or not.

Let us pray.

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