Before you gossip, remember how it feels to be talked about behind your back.
One day a man came to my door canvassing for a local politician who was running for state assembly. He spoke for a few minutes about the candidate’s qualifications and handed me a flyer. He asked if he could tell his candidate that he had my vote. I told him I wanted to investigate the man further, to do my own research, so I can make the most informed decision. He then began to bad mouth his candidate’s opponent. At that point I politely but firmly said, “Thank you for stopping by but I believe one of the most important things we must all work toward, whether it is in politics or in everyday life, is to deal with our differences by striving to reach common ground and behaving in courteous and respectful ways rather than stooping to tearing one another down.”
One of the best decisions I made is not to gossip or listen when people want to gossip about others. Many years ago I hurt someone deeply. Seeing the damage gossip did was a painful and rewarding lesson. I was so devastated that my selfish and unconscious actions hurt another person I promised myself I would not gossip about anyone again. So far I have kept my promise by catching myself should I be tempted to heartlessly go down that road. And, I politely walk away when other people want me to participate in gossiping about others.
Gossip is not the harmless pastime we often think it is. Gossip wounds hearts, destroys reputations and offers nothing positive to relationships. Most especially to the relationship we have with ourselves. If we think it is okay to spread negativity and rumor about others (friends, acquaintances, neighbors, actors, politicians, etc.) what are we saying about the value we place on ourselves?
We are doing ourselves and our society a great disservice by allowing trash-talking as normal with the egocentric rationalizations that everyone is doing it or this is just the way things are done. It does not feel good to be on the receiving end or to listen to it. Honestly, is condoning this behavior as normal the legacy we want to leave for our children? Not if we want them to live in a better world than we are. We are the ones who must stop tearing those apart who we disagree with or who we want to beat at something. We are strongest as individuals and as societies when we support one another in striving to be people of the best character possible – respectful, courteous, honest, supportive, cooperative, responsible, etc.
Imagine how the world will change for the better when we join together to actually treat others as we want to be treated. Imagine how much better we will feel about ourselves and others. Imagine how we will all begin to heal when we take the negative put-downs, tear-downs, and trash-talk out of our conversations because we know how it feels to be talked about behind our back.
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