Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ghastly Grimy Gossip

Mud was everywhere, but I did not see it at first, I only felt it. Arriving late at an important meeting yesterday where we were to discuss the details of Pyramid Project, I sat down with Erica, interrupting, but not intentionally, my friend who was conducting. Seeming as if I was bothering some in the room, I stated my regret in arriving late and that Erica and I had a few questions. There seemed to be some contentious feelings between me and my friend and I wasn’t quite certain where it stemmed from, thus this is the mud I am referring to in the opening sentence. I felt it, but could not see it. As the meeting continued, the feeling remained and grew heavier and yet I endeavored to remain happy and excited in order to defuse the tenseness in the air.

Just before leaving I asked my friend if she was all right and if there was anything that I had done to offend. What came next was like opening the double doors into a room filled with mire. The ooze burst through covering both of us until it was difficult to breath. She had been hurt badly by a false rumor that had been spreading throughout our circles and she was bold enough to tell me what others had said they thought I had said. It was an awful and erroneous speculation with an aim to hurt and maim relationships. Being covered with the “mire” caused me to grapple for air and words that might save our relationship. Trying to tell her it was not true was like trying to dam up the Snake River with human hands. Or as Shana Alexander once said, “Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell.” My friend would not believe me and I let that usurp my self-control causing me to cry like a baby and leave. I got in my car and headed for home. I felt awful as an innocent victim feels when they are carted off to prison. Even more awful was the scene I had caused—in front of so many friends and their youth. On the drive home a feeling came over me to return and apologize with all my might and to try and make amends of the situation. Because of the knowledge of the truth that I had never said such a thing, I felt free and clear and this feeling boosted me on. Truth always prevails and so surely she would someday know it in her heart and that was my only assurance.

All were still there, no doubt, trying to make sense of the “mire” and the unbridled behavior of the scene I had enacted just minutes before. Sincerely and anxiously I pleaded forgiveness of all the wrong that I seemed to have caused and she took me into her arms and let me cry there for a few moments. The mud seemed to clear up and our lungs could breath fresh air again. We stood to discuss a few concerns and I left feeling more love than ever from this friend.

Mud is ugly and stifling. The Rabbi Wayne Dosick wrote of this muddy Gossip, "Gossip and slander are not victimless crimes. Words do not just dissipate into midair . . . Words can injure and damage, maim and destroy - forcefully, painfully, lastingly . . . Plans have been disrupted, deals have been lost, companies have fallen, because of idle gossip or malicious slander. Reputations have been sullied, careers have been ruined, lives have been devastated, because of cruel lies or vicious rumors . . . Your words have such power to do good or evil that they must be chosen carefully, wisely, and well."

I came away today with a firm commitment to choose my words carefully when I speak. This situation caused me to pour over all the conversations I had been engaged in previously to search for where I went wrong. The exercise revealed to me a possible root to the rancorous rumor. I had told some people that I was anxious for Erica to take more vigorous classes to get her ready for Williamsburg Academy next year. Incidentally that innocent conversation lead to the demeaning rumor stating that I said my friend’s “son was slow and that Erica would be dumbed-down in the offered Pyramid Project class.” How hurtful is that statement and yet it was not true. I reflected on the adversary’s desire to bring misery on all and how easily it can be done when we engage in scandalous hearsay. “To hearken to evil conversation is the road to wickedness,” said the anonymous one.

Cato the Elder taught, “we cannot control the evil tongues of others; but a good life enables us to disregard them.” Gossip will continue as long as humans live upon this earth. However, we have the choice to engage in it and darken the earth or we can disregard it with all our might; let it roll off our souls and into the gutter where it belongs. I resolve today to carefully choose my words and to make amends where amends must take place. I also resolve to follow Johann K. Lavater’s advice to “Never tell evil of a man, if you do not know it for certainty, and if you know it for a certainty, then ask yourself, 'Why should I tell it?'” It has been said that when there is much good in the worst of us and plenty of bad in the best of us, then it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us. I choose today to clean up the mud whenever it comes my way, regardless of who put it there.
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