Gossip- Harmless Fun or Funless Harm?

Elaine Porterfield writes in the ‘The Seattle Times’ that gossip can be a malevolent force that destroys careers, decreases productivity, spawns lawsuits and damages the reputations of organizations of all stripes’. I have personally seen how harmful gossip can be, especially in the workplace where it alienates co-workers and destroys team spirit. It is also very easy to become drawn into gossip in order to cement one’s position in the group or simply to pass the time of day. At a political level gossip can be used as a weapon to undermine political opponents, and even ultimately as propaganda to dehumanise a religious or ethnic group with all the terrible results we have seen in recent history. I think that this is why Bahá’u’lláh made the avoidance of gossip and back-biting a spiritual law; after all harmony between nations starts with harmony between neighbours. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh-

‘O SON OF BEING! Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it’.

The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1985 reprint

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