I was asked by a woman recently about another woman that we both knew concerning some news about an illegal act in which she’d been involved. I had a little more information about the situation than my inquirer, but her asking me made me very uncomfortable. I wondered about her motive, for one thing. If I told her what I knew, what would she do with the information? Would she use it for gossip? Perhaps she wanted to support the other woman, but I was not sure it was necessary to give her the information in order for her to offer her support. I thought my telling her what I knew might make her less judgmental about our friend, but it could have the opposite effect. I guess the truth is that I didn’t trust the woman.
This is a dilemma I come across every once in a while. In my younger days, I was guilty of gossip. I deluded myself into believing my interest in the negative details of another person’s life, whether hearing or sharing, had something to do with caring or “concern” for them. As I got to know myself better, I realized that concern does not depend on the knowing of details but on my capacity for empathy. Today, if I have such concern about someone, I will reach out to the person who is in trouble and offer my support directly.wof I don’t know them well enough I will pray for them. Prayer helps me to “let go and let God”. In praying for someone, I am exercising that part of myself that believes in an engaged God who sees into the heart of each person and “works all things together.”
The tendency of people to seek out the negative or spread negative details about others reminds me of an old Native American story:
ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES IN INSIDE PEOPLE.
HE SAID, “MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO ‘WOLVES’ INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY,LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.
THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE, LOVE, HOPE, SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
TRUTH, COMPASSSION AND FAITH.”
THE GRANDSON THOUGHT ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
“WHICH WOLF WINS?…”
THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
“THE ONE THAT YOU FEED”.