Gossip is the very antithesis of love and good will, the motifs of the holiday season. Gossip distances people from each other. Not only are gossipers distanced from the person they are gossiping abuat but also the gossipers become distanced from each other, as their superficial camaraderie gives way to feelimgs of distrust. After all, who can trust a gossipers?
There is no such thing as 'harmless gossip'. Sometimes passing on negative information has a very specific, constructive purpose. For example, Mary is justified in warning Jack not to go into business with Tom, because Tom's last two business ventures went bankrupt. However, if Mary tells other people who have no intention of doing business with Tom about his financial woes, she is gossiping. Gossip always damages.It damages people's reputations and it damages the bond of love, respect, and brotherhood which should exist between people.
If you open your mouth to say something negative about someone else, close it for a minute and ask yourself:
- What positive purpose will be served by passing on this information? Do all your cousins really need to know that Jen flunked out of law school instead of her story that she's simply 'taking some time off'?
- Would I make such a statement about someone I really love? Isn't this a good time to start loving your fellow human beings? If not now, when?
- What's something positive I can say about this person? Instead of poking fun at Aunt Meg's fogetfulness, why not reminisce about the yummy pies she used to make? Instead of roasting Len for the way he dresses, why not praise the way he relates to the maintenance staff?
- Will what I'm about to say be conducive to a holiday atmosphere of love and good will? Or will it breed an atmosphere of criticism, bacbiting, and scoffing? When you leave this party, you can feel elevated by all the love and good feeling, or you can feel it was a "downer" from all the pettiness and gossip. The choice is in your mouth at this momen