Some weeks ago I rode the GO Train from Union Station to Aldershot. Seated ahead of me were three individuals —clearly workplace colleagues.
Between Union and Clarkson, in fairly loud voices, they tore their boss to pieces. At Clarkson, one exited the train. Between Clarkson and Bronte, the remaining two tore to pieces the colleague who got off in Clarkson!
Barbara Blodgett (Lives Entrusted: An Ethic of Trust for Ministry) defines gossip as informal, evaluative discourse about someone not present who is a member of the speakers’ social group.
Sadly, I have witnessed the worst of pernicious gossip in the academy, where tenured faculty succumb to hubris, and in so doing viciously attack their colleagues, who are not present.
Blodgett introduces testimony—first-person, public revelation of oneself and one’s faith—as an alternative to gossip.
Jesus admonishes us to stay away completely from swearing falsely.
By letting our words be complete—yes means yes and no means no—we stop pernicious and ultimately injurious behaviour, replacing it with love and a non-competitive forum for dialogue.
The Reverend Deacon Paul K. Bates, Grace Church Waterdown.