Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Know Thyself

Brace yourselves for some serious over-thinking.

Detracion - a lessening of reputation or esteem especially by envious, malicious, or petty criticism

Gossip - to relate a rumor or report of an intimate nature

Okay, so these two sins, or negative habits(if that term is more comfortable) are very possibly the most socially acceptable way of harming one another. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the effects of these two vices and these are some things that really struck me about myself.

When I am hurt or offended someone, I find it easy to share that and and the details of why I'm upset with some friend of relative or support. There are so many problems with that. First, I know within myself that I would feel deep shame if the person about whom I was speaking over heard my words or later learned of them. Second, most of my friends and acquaintances know each other. That means that my words could potentially be very damaging to the person I'm speaking of, the person I'm speaking to, their relationship, and my relationship with both people. I hate gossip and detraction. I feel as if no good comes from either of these vices. But let's not kid, I am so frequently guilty of gossip that it's ridiculous.

It doesn't make sense. I am so strongly opposed to the vices, yet I am readily guilty of them. Why is that? Well, I think that it's partly because when I'm upset about something, it's easier for me to complain about it to a third party than to address it with the person in question. Also, when I know someone is going through a rough time, my tendency is to tell others the specifics of that in order to give them incentive to join me in praying my friend through that troubled time. Finally, when someone asks me about my day, I find it difficult to answer honestly without giving the details of whatever conflicts or potential conflicts have taken place that day.

Why does any of this matter? Well, nearly everyone takes part in gossip or detraction. Lately that fact has been disturbing me greatly. Why? It's disturbing me because I've been wondering, what do people say when they gossip about me? I've never really liked to think of myself as the subject of gossip - I doubt anyone really does - but the idea of my faults, weaknesses, and personal life becoming the center of someone else's conversation, especially if that someone else is a friend that I love and trust, is very unsettling. This, in turn, makes me wonder how my friends feel. Even if I rarely say anything about them, what would they say if that knew about such and such time where I wasn't a good friend and said too much?

I know that my friends are wonderful and they care a great deal about me, but that only makes me feel my guilt more keenly. They don't deserve gossip or detraction from me. They deserve to be upheld, not to have their actions opened up for the discussion, judgment, and perhaps mockery of others. How easy it is for some misunderstanding to come about from one story about someone that is taken out of the context of their life, motives, and usual personality and actions. Once people get ideas about one another, it's hard to break them. It's a cliche' statement and yet, if we really think about it, we know it to be true.

I'm writing about this on my blog because it's on my heart. The purpose of this post is not to lecture anyone and I am not writing it to correct someone else's tendencies towards gossip and detraction. This is about my own tendency and the tendency of others in general. If anyone feels an ill-disguised reproof in this post, it's not from me, but maybe there's a reason for it.

I do, however want to issue a general apology. To all of my friends whom have ever become the subject of my gossip, to all the friends whom I have talked about instead of talked to (regarding grievances and problems), to all the friends who's secrets I didn't keep, and to all of the friends who feel betrayed by my idle words, I am sincerely sorry. I am going to make a concrete effort to change and the reason why is because I love you. I want to be worthy of your trust and your friendship. Please be patient with me for I am slow to learn. Have a good day!

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