I am one of those people that do not remember a lot about my early childhood. Recently an old friend sent a picture of my kindergarten class. (Bet you can’t guess which one was me). Interestingly, one of my kindergarten teachers later became part of the family by marriage (Beach’s wife’s aunt). Yes, it is a small world. Six of my class members (that I stayed in contact with) went on to excel in life as a State Farm executive, a Nasa scientist, a nationwide trucking warehouse owner, a citrus person, a stockbroker, a tax attorney and me. Theoretically, this crop of kindergarteners turned out well.
All though we had good kindergarten teachers we cannot attribute our success to them. The values our parents instilled in us at the time were the genesis of a productive life. It was a time where we didn’t lock our doors, family spent time together, we knew and respected our neighbor, we treated people with the Golden Rule and values were passed from one generation to the other.
I specifically recall two pearls of wisdom from my mom. If Mom didn’t tell me this 5000 times, she didn’t say it once. “If you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all.” Along those same lines, Mom reminded me that “If someone is talking to me about someone else, then you can rest assured they will also talk about you behind your back.”
These are timeless truths that have proved true repeatedly. So much so my brother and I have included many of these timeless pearls of wisdom as part of the core values of our law firm. One of our 8 core values provide that gossip is not acceptable in our culture. Specifically, “In our transparent culture, gossip is not tolerated.” I wish I could say I thought of this myself, but I didn’t. I learned this from loving parents who most likely learned it from their parents. These timeless principles didn’t just appear from nowhere. From my perspective, they were God inspired.
Gossip is a slippery slope. Sometimes we listen because it can be dangerously alluring to know the dirt on a co-worker or friend. Unfortunately, it is in many respects like a hurricane. There is a certain thrill of the anticipation of a hurricane….not having to work, not knowing what will happen, having hurricane parties with friends, etc. Unfortunately, this is short lived. Often the aftermath is destruction and devastation. Loss of power for days on end, no gas, stores closed, tempers flaring and increased insurance rates. Gossip is the same way, alluring and exciting in the short run, but always leading to devastation eventually resulting in ruined friendships, loss of respect, distrust, alienation and lowered self-esteem. I am no saint and have participated in gossip but I hate the way it makes me feel afterward. It chips away at my self-worth. For today, I choose not to gossip. I am thankful for the Christian values imparted to me by my parents. At first blush this pearl of wisdom may feel like just another “life rule to follow”. However, I have learned that following this advice is not restrictive; it is valuable insight on how to have a better and more meaningful life. It benefits me!