She peeks outside her window as if no one can see her. Ms. Creola is the community gossiper. Later, Ms. Creola watches Sylvia, her neighbor across the street. Sylvia is married, but her husband regularly travels out of town. Ms. Creola notices that a minister regularly visits her monthly. Ms. Creola believes Sylvia is having an affair. She spreads this news all around town. As a result, Sylvia is hurt by this gossip. Sylvia’s community scandalizes the minister. Unfortunately, this minister is Sylvia’s husband cousin. He had been instructed to check on her. Everyone in the community feels bad. The damage, however, has already been done. Ms. Creola is nowhere to be found.
Have you ever been lied on? Did you track the source? Gossip is an evil tool used to destroy a person’s character. At some point in time, you’ve probably been exposed to gossip or rumors; you might have given or received this information. How did you feel? Gossip usually has some aspect of truth to make it believable. If you look around your office, church, and community, you can find someone who has been damaged by gossip. No one can escape it. Gossip is no respecter of status or rank in our society…not judge, minister, celebrity, handicap, or child. Gossip spreads like a wild fire. It is almost always negative.
The Gossip Connection
What does it mean to gossip? According to the Webster Dictionary, gossip refers to rumors, and idle talk, especially about the affairs of others. It can happen to anyone—even me. While in junior high school, I remember talking with some guys from school near a busy intersection. The guys started smoking marijuana; I wasn’t participating. However, one student saw us talking. The next day at school the story came out that I was smoking with them (yes, I was in the wrong place at the time). I marveled at the speed of this information. I knew where the rumors came from. I laughed it off. The gossip eventually flamed out, and my reputation was left intact. Many people have not been as lucky as me. Unfortunately, most people get their reputations damaged, but they are not able to track the origin of the gossip. The people who spread the gossip throw mud and hide in the shadow of the dark. These gossipers who intentionally destroy a person’s reputation are like criminals who fatally shoot people in the back. Do they deserve a fair trial in court? It’s not fair that someone can throw out slanderous remarks with little evidence and folks still believe it. Gossipers can’t wash their hands in the matter and hope that the blood is not on their hands. (It didn’t work for Pontius Pilate and it won’t work for you.)
The Gossip Test
Before you go spread any rumors, you should ask yourself some questions:
• Do you know anyone hurt from gossip?
• Do you start gossip about people or just help spread it?
• What do you do when someone shares vicious rumors?
• Do you feel an obligation to tell others about gossip?
• How do you feel when someone’s reputation is damaged?
The Gossip Resolution
Everyone has some flaws; however, people who accuse others often fail to see their own shortcomings. Jean Toomer once said, ” All men have faults. Small men are blind to their own, and therefore main small.” Each person is responsible to determine how he or she will deal with gossip and the source. Try not to place yourself in compromising positions that will stimulate rumors. This is often difficult to foresee. Try to be prudent in your approach. Another way to deal with gossip is to insert your name into the story. How does it make you feel? Good? Stay far away from gossipers. It could easily be you next. Start today and gain control.
Daryl and Estraletta Green provide personal advice all around the country. Daryl is the author of two books, Awakening the Talents Within and My Cup Runneth Over. They have been noted and quoted in such media organizations such as USA Today, NBC’s Alive at Five, Heaven 600, Answerline, American Urban Radio, The Bev Smith Show, The Hallerin Hill Show, Ebony Magazine, and BET’s Buy the Book. The Green’s nationally syndicated column, FamilyVision, reached 200 newspapers and over 12 million readers. For a free list of the Green’s Top Ten Life, Changing Books, you can email at their website, http://www.darylandestraletta.com