Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Reflection: The Poison of Gossip

Before we get to the Friday Reflection, an addendum to yesterday's post on our psychotic leadership. Here's Dick Cheney, speaking in an interview yesterday, on what will happen if we even begin to withdraw troops from Iraq:

"If we pull out, they'll follow us," he said of terrorists.

Cheney's variety of psychodeviance is, of course, paranoia. He is the paranoid specialist of this Administration. You might even have fun debating with your friends on matching particular psycho-diagnoses with your favorite Bush officials...don't forget to put your votes into the Comments. Here are some ideas I've had:

President Bush: ADHD, a touch of mania, presenile dementia

Dick Cheney: paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression)

John Bolton: aggressive personality disorder with borderline traits

Donald Rumsfeld: narcissistic personality disorder with a touch of mania

Tom Delay: cleptomania, sociopathy with aggressive traits

I can still recall that Pink Floyd lyric:

The lunatic is in the hall;
The lunatics are in the hall;
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paperboy brings more.


Gossip: The Voice of Idle Arrogance

For obvious reasons, I can't tell you anything here about where I work; but I will tell you that there's a lot of in-fighting going on there these days. The preferred weaponry is, of course, email and meetings. The preferred ammunition consists of rumor, half-truth, personal attack, blame, and good old petty sniping. I'm fortunate, because I've been in the corporate game for two decades and have developed a sense for when this stuff is coming my way and what to do about it; and I've got a boss who won't tolerate a speck of bullshit tossed her way or mine.

The current prevalence of this foul stuff, however, reminds me that our culture appears to be breeding it. You pick up a newspaper and are as likely to see Jacko or Britney or 50 Cent as you are Bush, Cheney, or Osama. Whenever anyone's done a statistical survey of such things, it comes out that whatever's coming out of Gwyneth's womb or Cruise's mouth is reported out of all proportion to their importance, compared with, say the poisoning of the earth. It seems an appropriate moment, then, for a Friday Reflection on the subject of gossip.


A wagging tongue comes out of an empty mind. The intelligence of a soul is inversely proportional to the gossip it spouts or consumes.

But today, gossip has taken over the media; it poisons the front pages and sits in the network anchor's chair. Its toxic breath infects us all, like acid rain or wind-driven smog. A rumor is a disease, a contagion on the living body of truth.

Gossip is the insurgent of Mind—it plants little bombs of improvised invective or half-fabricated innuendo within us. It deflects vision from reality, and dismembers thought from feeling; intellect from intuition.

We take it to work with us, where we use it to lay traps and wreak hatred among our colleagues. Gossip is self-destruction spreading outward; it is ever seeking to penetrate the bounds of privacy; to make noise where there should be silence. It sits in dull ignorance as it claims to be in the know.

Is your life so full of empty spaces that must be filled with lurid images and breathless rumors of people you will never know, whose only influence on your life and mind is to trap them amid fantasy? If you are sick, seek treatment; diversion will only kill you faster within.

Your human life needs deep and constant attention—the kind of care you would devote to a child of your own. Can a single moment of it be wasted on gossip? Remember that the smallest rumor is still a scourge; the briefest glance of vindictive idleness quickly becomes a cancer on consciousness. Your life cannot afford any of this; it is far too precious to waste on petty scandal. Retreat from it, then, wherever you find it; expose it for what it is, to yourself and others; then turn away, turn within. Go back to the center inside you, where truth lies waiting like the woman you love in your bed. Embrace her, protect her, feel her gentle glow radiate from your core.

Truth is moonglow: the soft light of the personal joining silently with the universal. Gossip is a blinding glare of display. A demon is only dark within; but its facade is always a gleaming, narcissistic flash that stuns the eye and stills the inner senses. The path to death is lined with idle chatter and flagrant display. Show those voices no mercy: kill them within you, and the warm body of your truth will awaken and fill you with gratitude and bliss.

9:00 PM tonight: Watch Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason

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