Friday, March 13, 2009

The Tragedy of Gossip

Recently my thirteen year old daughter lost a tooth and she and my wife reminded me as we chatted of that irresistible feeling of digging your tongue in the groove where the tooth once lay; there’s hours of fun, intrigue and mindless amusement right there!

This situation illustrates how inherently passionate we are about engaging our senses, and how difficult it is to resist these sorts of ‘natural’ temptations.

It also reminded me of the ‘natural’ temptation we get in life to get involved in gossip. It’s almost too easy to get involved in relationships where damage is done with gossip. I mean, we start shooting our mouths off without any thought sometimes, especially with a little indirect coaxing by the foolhardy.

Gossip, almost by definition, is that conflict-communication activity that gets busy particularly when we’re not part of the problem or solution.

Proverbs has some guidance about gossip. “Gossips betray a confidence, but the trustworthy keeps a secret” (11:13); “The perverse stir up dissension, and gossips separate close friends” (16:28); “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (18:8); “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much” (20:19)[1]

Gossip (getting involved when we’re not part of the problem or solution) is like an aggressive cancer for relationships. It’s an indirect acid, reacting with and digesting the healthy parts of relationships from near and afar, until they are no more.

Gossip is tragic for healthy relationships as people stop thinking the best of one another in favour of believing ‘choice morsels.’ Gossip does something quite subversive to the truth, leaving a swath of destruction in its path. The truth is left in silence and solitude.

From the proverbs showcased we’re wise to seek honest, trustworthy confidants, who do not compromise their integrity for anything. A good test of someone’s character here is in the final proverb: avoid the person who talks too much--their lack of discipline will almost certainly bring them (and perhaps you) undone eventually.
Even better is to be the person who refuses point blank to gossip; what a friend you would be!

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] All verses from the Today’s New International Version.

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