Some of us may have already heard Pope Francis' comments on gossip. He compared the mentality of religious men and women who engage in gossip to that of terrorists. He called such people 'enemies of religion'. "The tongue", he said, "can destroy a community by speaking badly about another person". "How many communities have been destroyed through the spirit of gossip?", Pope Francis rhetorically asked his audience in Bangladesh.
We are no exception and have indeed been many times gossipers and victims of gossip. At times the gossip is so subtle and covered up as 'sharing with a close friend' or 'cautioning a friend', that we are not even aware of the gossip involved. Easy availability of social media and especially the mobile phone has made the spread of gossip cancerous.
How do we check whether we engage in gossiping? It needs a sensitive heart which asks always, is what I am saying going to be for the good of the listener and others? Am I following the golden rule: 'do to others as you would have them do to you'? Or better still, follow Rumi: 'before speaking, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?' On a lighter note, 'Gossip can also be entertaining. Occasionally I have heard the most fascinating things about myself I never knew', said Vanna Bonta.
Fr. M K George SJ