In that we all live in some sort of community, we’ve all seen gossip at work. You might think it is more of a small town phenomenon, but any time groups of people form formally or otherwise, people talk about other people … at work, at church, neighborhoods, etc. To a degree, it is a caring act to share information about others. It becomes part of the fiber that knits the community together. Everybody does it. So how do we sometimes cross the line, to the point that it can become such a disruptive force?
The clear problem arises when we slip from facts to judgments. “Joe has lung cancer.” This would be a fact. “Joe is terminally ill.” “Joe has lung cancer because he smoked at of those years.” “I’ll bet Joe isn’t going to be able to pay for his medical treatment.” All of these statements may have some basis in fact, but we have added a dose of opinion or judgment, which may or may not be very well informed. After hearing these statements, the next person in the chair might add additional twists to the tale. “With Joe dying, how is Nancy every going to get along?” “Smoking has created this terrible problem for Joe … maybe it will help his son to quite smoking.” “If they are in deep financial trouble, it probably means they will have to sell their house.” And the telephone game goes on and on.
We all make judgments all of the time. One person might hear a statement that I make and think, ‘wow … he’s showing good judgement.’ Another person hearing the same statement might think, ‘hmmm … he’s being judgmental.’ So much of what it boils down to is whether or not they agree with my statement!
It’s part of human nature to create meaning out of things and in doing so, make judgments. A good thought to ponder … when to simply keep our mouth shut. Here is a saying that my grandmother used to repeat:
“There is so much good in the worst of us,
and so much bad in the best of us,
that it behooves all of us
not to talk about the rest of us.”
Just a thought … DonC