The human tongue has the unique ability to tear someone down just by uttering the wrong words. Words are a very powerful force. We as humans have the ability to build someone up or tear someone down just by selecting the right words.
There is a 19th century folktale about a young man who went about town slandering the town’s wise man. One day, he went to the wise man’s home and asked for forgiveness. The wise man, realizing that this man had not internalized the gravity of his transgressions, told him that he would forgive him on one condition: that he go home, take a feather pillow from his house, cut it up, and scatter the feathers to the wind. After he had done so, he should then return to the wise man’s house.
Though puzzled by this strange request, the young man was happy to be let off with so easy a penance. He quickly cut up the pillow, scattered the feathers, and returned to the house.
“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.
“Just one more thing,” the wise man said. “Go now and gather up all the feathers.”
“But that’s impossible. The wind has already scattered them.”
“Precisely,” he answered. “And though you may truly wish to correct the evil you have done, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers. Your words are out there in the marketplace, spreading hate, even as we speak.”
There are many ways to hurt a person, but the easiest and simplest method is to gossip. Whisper a story about someone in an ear and see how quickly it manifests and grows out of proportion. Once gossip is spoken it can never be taken back. Trust is broken and the damage is done. You can ask for forgiveness for what you said, but you can never take back what was said and the trust level is shattered.
If you find yourself in a situation where you must talk here are some suggestions to use as a guide before telling what you think you know about someone else.