Reflections On The Journey




Posted on July 18, 2022 at 8:55 AM

Monday Meditation – Gossip 7/18/2022


Human beings love to gossip. We want to know the latest news about celebrities, our neighbors and even the person who sits in the last pew in the corner.


Certainly we do need to stay abreast of what is going on with the people we care about. We need to know if they are facing surgery or an illness so we can pray for them. We want to find out about major events so we can celebrate with the people involved. And we need to know important news about our local communities.


But how often do we pass beyond the line of important information and engage in gossip?


Gossip is defined as casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not always confirmed as being true. Phrases like “Did you hear about so-and-so?” can spark long banters which may even involve speculations and outright lies, not to mention anger and hurt. I confess that more than once I have passed on a bit of news that may not have been true or helpful. It’s so easy to do, and gossip makes for great “conversational fillers.”


I remember a game I played as a youngster called “telephone.” One person would whisper something to the next person in line, who would in turn whisper what they heard (or thought they heard) to the next person. The message continued to be passed to the last person, who would say out loud what they heard. We laughed at how different the story became by the time it reached that last person.


Thinking about it now, however, “telephone” is not so funny. Isn’t that what often happens with a lot of information? One person passes on something, and by the time it trickles down through several others it is different from what was said at the start. Plus it could include lies or biases from the people anywhere in the chain and thus be more gossip than fact. I also wonder at the words used in various news programs as they discuss current events. I am curious as to how much of the information is factual as opposed to speculation and opinions, although I suppose I will never know.


Recently I came across a quote attributed to Pope Francis that struck me, and I think is worthy of review. Here's what he said as to why you should not gossip:


In Ancient Greece, Socrates had a great reputation of wisdom. One day, someone came to find the great philosopher and said to him:

“Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“A moment,” replied Socrates. “Before you tell me, I would like to test you with the three sieves.”

“The three sieves?”

“Yes,” continued Socrates. “Before telling anything about the others, it's good to take the time to filter what you mean. I call it the test of the three sieves. The first sieve is the TRUTH. Have you checked if what you're going to tell me is true?”

“No, I just heard it.”

“Very good! So, you don't know if it's true. We continue with the second sieve, that of KINDNESS. What you want to tell me about my friend, is it good?”

“Oh, no! On the contrary.”

“So,” questioned Socrates, “You want to tell me bad things about him and you're not even sure they're true? Maybe you can still pass the test of the third sieve, that of UTILITY. Is it useful that I know what you're going to tell me about this friend?”

“No, not really.”

“So,” concluded Socrates, “What you were going to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor useful. Why, then, did you want to tell me this?”

“Gossip is a bad thing. In the beginning it may seem enjoyable and fun, but in the end, it fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us, too."


These words hit me as I read them. How many times have I just passed on information without confirming its truth, verifying it is kind, and ensuring it is useful? And how many of those times have my words poisoned me or the people I spoke to? Probably way too many times, I’m afraid.


I am going to try to improve. The next time I am tempted to pass on some information which may be questionable, I will try to remember to give it the three sieves test - to ensure it is true, kind and useful. Or better yet, I will just say nothing. I hope this mindfulness to avoid gossip will help me to become a kinder person.


Have a blessed Monday!


© 2022


Categories: Inspiration

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