A “funny” thing happened to me on the last day of Grand Lodge Sessions. On that last day of sessions I tripped over my own feet and fell down in a rather artful face plant. I was returning to our hotel with a number of members, and naturally everyone showed their concern, while I knew that I was just being my normal clumsy self. I had a couple of bruises and a little blood streaming.

Within a week, while I had pretty much healed up, I heard that I had gone to the hospital, and received many stitches, and that someone had tripped me up. None of this was true, but it was more entertaining than just focusing on my clumsiness. So, gossip in this case was almost benevolent. But I imagine that if I had never returned to sessions, it may have escalated even further. In a couple more weeks, the gossip might have reported that I had been punched in the nose, or had sustained a ruptured spleen, broken foot and brain damage.

Gossip is pernicious, harmful, hurtful, and detrimental.

We are now in a world where gossip can spread quickly. Electronic communication is everywhere. Politicians use gossip frequently, often to damage opponents. Some websites promote it while others deny it exists. Gossip in a good manner makes those who know the target of the gossip envious, so it does little to empower the maker of the gossip. Gossip in a bad manner, however, empowers the maker, as it belittles the subject of the gossip. Also, the more unique the gossip, the more powerful the impact.

When we enter a room if we are armed with a piece of gossip we become powerful. It can become a weapon, as if we are weaponized against the world we enter. One may often hear gossip that is so egregious as to be almost nonsensical at its base. A member may be accused of something so abhorrent that the obvious question would be how would others not know? Yet, the spreader of the gossip may persist, even if the logical response might be to ignore the rumor. Other times, if the room in general seems opposed to the target of the gossip, they might entertain the spreader of the gossip even if it all seems absurd. Then it becomes an interchange of gossip, where each new volley becomes more intense, and often more ludicrous.

Of course, we all may spread gossip, but we should realize that gossip at any level affects the target of the gossip, and if it is noxious gossip, it often reflects more on the spreader of the gossip than it does harm to the target. Then there are those who feel that they only speak and hear the truth. But of course, this is generally an illusion, because who can really know another person in full? We can’t.

This is the last point of gossip. Gossip does not rest. We need to realize that we will never be the other people we know, and while it may seem harmless, it often affects others more than we realize.

In F., L., & T.,

Rick Boyles
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.)
Jurisdiction of California

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