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The Evil of Gossip
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spacer I would like to vent about a topic that pains us all from time to time, gossip. Gossip, which everyone at one time or the other is tempted to do, is the source of much suffering and evil in the world. If you would be swayed, please read on. If not, let this note stay in the public consciousness so that others will understand your choices and know them as your own actions.

In "The Four Agreements ", a book by Don Miguel Ruiz that I have recently read, gossip is compared to black magic. Although the author goes into a rather lengthy explanation of how it is black magic in the sense of the Toltec, I would hold that it fits the more European culture's definition of "black magic" just fine.

Consider the historical view of what black magic is. It is practiced by some rather unsavory characters, usually in secret, intended to affect how people interact or to force a desired outcome. There is typically very little that the target of black magic can do to rid themselves of it. It is quite like drowning in quick sand. The more you struggle, the more energy you expend trying to avoid it, the quicker you fall victim.

In our more mundane settings, this definition of black magic holds for gossip rather well.

  • Gossip is insidious; you cannot defend against it. You cannot talk about it, for then you are guilty or have something to hide. The person gossiped about cannot defend against it because gossiping is typically done in private. How do you defend yourself against a faceless enemy?
  • Retaliatory gossip is the typical reaction, but this too is evil and perpetuates this form of evil, evil feeding on evil, causing pain between all parties. Think of all of the "he said -vs- she said" arguments that you've ever been party to. Did false accusation ever bring about peace?
  • You cannot be a party to a gossip conversation without being affected, how ever slightly. Each time you see that person, you will in that small scared part of your mind, wonder if the original gossip is true.
  • Gossip is bourn of pride, lust, feelings of inadequacy, envy, and hate. Pride of feeling that the teller is better than the target. Lust, typically for the power or desired outcome that the gossip was originally cast for. Sheer revenge, "to make the other suffer" for our own feelings of inadequacy, envy or hate.
  • Gossip mutates with each retelling. Much like that game where you tell a sentence to another player, and so on and so on until it gets around the circle, gossip mutates with each retelling. Based either on the tellers opinion of the subject of the gossip, or based the trust placed in the person who told them the gossip, items are expounded with more force, or are left out of the story.
  • Once a bit of rumor has been started by gossip, it takes on a life of it's own. Much like a mutating virus, it finds new hosts everywhere it lands. Those who practice this form of black magic tend to reinforce all of the evil that is gossip with each retelling.

Think back to the last time you were the target of gossip, good or bad. Each person who participates in the perpetuation of this black magic has their opinion of you changed, typically without any proof (sometimes without KNOWING that their opinion was changed), and suspicion and hate are the only by products. Being the target of this evil, you have little or no way to defend yourself, even if you know who started the gossip. Therefore, it is a pain that must simply be bourn. Who needs more pain in their lives?

All of this exemplifies my original position. Gossip is evil. Within any group, some gossiping occurs. I realize that. However, what one does with that gossip matters a great deal. As one of the evils that we can all live without, I would ask that each and every reader considers what you are doing the next time you hear some "juicy" gossip and choose what you do and or say. I would hope that you simply and politely suggest to the teller that such things are not appreciated and suggest they go elsewhere with their poison. Alternatively, you might just listen and then forget (as best you can) whatever was said. Let the rumors and gossip die. That way, others may know of your inner character and ethics. Let this form of evil in the world END.

Written May, 2001.

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