We live in such a cynical world – a world seeking truth in all the wrong places; a world full of lies and scams and cheats. How did we get here?
We’re more concerned with the personal lives of semi-celebrities than the sad realities in our own homes or the changes being made in our government; changes which will affect this nation for hundreds of years instead of the next 5 media minutes. When you go to the grocery store, what do you see lining the checkout line? Gossip magazines and tabloids. We all want to know who is having an out-of-wedlock baby with so-and-so … and who got secretly married over the weekend. Why do we care so much about the personal lives of strangers? (Let’s be honest, you’re never gonna meet Brad Pitt!)
We’re more concerned with coming up with the best zinger dealing with the latest piece of news in hopes of many retweets and shares. But at what expense do we seek this 30-second social media fame? Is it worth undercutting the dignity of another human being for the sake of a cheap laugh?
I’ll be the first to admit that gossip is so tempting and so easy to fall into. Who doesn’t want to know the juicy details of the downfall of another person? Every time I go to confession, I have to confess gossip. It’s an unfortunate sin and I hate that I repeatedly fall victim to it.
I can’t help but think of the story in the Gospel of John when Jesus encounters a group about to stone a woman caught committing adultery.
John 8:7 “But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
After writing something in the sand for the group to read, they all retreated. I’ve always wondered what Jesus wrote that day. I think it’s safe to say we all need a moment like that.
Before we cast our stones, let’s put ourselves in the place of that person. Would it be as funny if I were the one who made the mistake and am now on the receiving end of endless cruelty? This is akin to bullying in an adult form. We need to remember the dignity of each person before verbalizing our opinions. We need to decide if this is helpful or hurtful for the conversation overall.
I don’t say any of this to be righteous. I am just as guilty as the next person at the cheap laughs. But as I am growing older and beginning to see the world in new ways, I am recognizing my shortfalls more and more – as well as how to fix them.
Perhaps next time I am tempted to gossip about someone, I will shift from focusing on the negative to looking for a positive in their life – whether it directly affected me or not. If I am to uphold the dignity of individuals, I can start by thinking of them more positively and pausing to say a prayer for them. My hope is to strive to grow in virtue as I desire to remove my vices.
There is only one thing I know to be true amidst all the scandals and gossip in our society: There is a God who loves us beyond measure and He’s ready to enter into authentic relationship with each of us to aid us in becoming better servants. Let’s all take a giant step back and support each other to look beyond the gossip of this world and focus on things that truly matter. Let’s be authentic!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!
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