By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS may be the favorite pastime of many people, but it is never good to gossip. To gossip is at least bad manners. If ever we have to talk about somebody with some of our friends, only nice, edifying things should be said.
We actually have no right to say negative things about others for the simple reason that the ones concerned would have no chance to explain and defend themselves and those talked to usually do not have any way to do anything about those negative things, since they have nothing to do with the persons gossiped about.
We have to be most careful when in a conversation the topic would touch about a certain person who is not there. If the tone is not positive, the most likely thing to happen is that the conversation will turn into backbiting and mudslinging. The temptation is usually strong, and many find it irresistible.
Even if the negative things said of a person are true, it is still wrong to gossip because that would be a form of detraction. It would still go against the commandment of charity which has as its finer points the demands of magnanimity, compassion, mercy, understanding, etc.
But what usually happens in that hush-hush tone of gossips is that the negative things said are not true or are already compromised what with all the exaggerations and distortions and the voicing of biases and prejudices that are typical of gossips. In this case, one would commit slander which is a more serious offense against a person.
Gossips encourage rash judgments, silly loquacity and reckless considerations of persons. They actually dehumanize gossipers. They spoil the tongue by letting it have its way without the proper guidance of right reason, let alone, charity.
As St. James said in his letter, we have to be most careful with our tongue. “The tongue,” he said, “is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (3,5-6)
We need to be deliberate in training our tongue to follow the requirements of truth and charity. That’s because we tend to be loose and cavalier with it, and it actually needs to be closely guarded and disciplined.
Given the way things are nowadays, we need to be most concerned about this issue. That’s because gossip today are not anymore hushed up. They have gone viral, enjoying a very vast amplitude what with all the powerful modern technologies we now have.
There is a lot of fake news around, and what people present as facts that everyone should know are actually materials for character assassinations and other fault-finding schemes. Today, even big, powerful networks are making use of this kind of journalism and public opinion.
We cannot be passive before this kind of development. We have to turn the tide. And this can mean that aside from avoiding gossips, we should be ready to spread positive and constructive things about persons, things, situations. We may have differences and conflicts which are actually unavoidable, but we can always handle them properly with charity and respect for everyone if we care.
When talking with friends, and especially when talking in public, we have to be ready with positive ideas and edifying words, stories, anecdotes, facts, and even jokes to say. These things do not compromise the objectivity of things, even if they may not capture everything that needs to be said or known.
What should be avoided at all costs is to say negative things. If they have to be said because one would need to explain or defend himself, then a proper forum should be resorted to.