“If I maintain my silence about my secret it is my prisoner... if I let it slip from my tongue, I am its prisoner.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
No matter what they do,
No matter what they say,
Integrity keeps me true,
That’s why I won’t sway.
If the gossip has to stop,
It has to stop with me.
SECRETS are granted to us in the sweeps and turns of the relational life. We are privileged to be allowed in within the secrets of others, let alone to keep the secrets we have tightly locked away – the secrets that maintain integrity. Trusted is the person we will share with, just as it is that we are blessed to be that trusted person when somebody else shares with us.
Imagining Another Person’s Heart
I like to think of a person’s heart – for instance, a child’s – as being an area of the soul like a lounge room with fine China furniture assembled throughout. If we barge our way through that lounge room, disrupting the careful assembly of the furniture we might break some. So it is with how we treat people – when we are in their presence and, equally, when we are away. We are allowed access to their lounge rooms because we are trusted; it is an abomination to betray that trust.
It’s a temptation to barge through that lounge room without the care and respect that’s due. Sometimes we just feel like risking something or getting on with it. But when it comes to people we can’t afford to take risks that we would not want them taking with us.
This is where the Golden Rule for treating others as we would like to be treated comes in. To know how much it hurts to be gossiped about – that it feels as if you are being ganged up on and persecuted – is vital to keep in the forefront of the mind.
God has a better plan for our lives: to live a life of integrity – where we are integral within and without. No matter what they say, or what they do, we can respond in ways of obedience.
The distance between integrity and gossip is as far as east is to west. The opportunity of gossip is the test of integrity. Each one of us will have times and circumstances where we are tempted. If we imagine the precious nature of people’s confidences we will care for them as we should.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.