Today, at the end of the service, one of our preechers took my hand as I was going out (they always stand both of them at the door of the church to bless people as they say good-bye), and said that he heard about the returning to Costa Rica, and expressed his regret about it. I thought he meant my brother, as his flight departed today quite early, so I rushed to correct him, that he meant my brother, not me. However the preecher said, "No, I mean you". This startled me, but he smiled and said, "but I also know that you'll come back, so we will wait for you". I had no idea what was he talking about, but then, as I made my way out, I realized that my grandpa - and maybe my brother too - had shared the news about how things were going around here, the conditions and the likely result of these events. Perhaps any of you would think that I should have been upset because they went gossiping about me, but it didn't bother me as much. There's a tiny chance that things may come out differently, but I see those chances further and further away. Yes, most likely I'll go back to Costa Rica by the time my sabatical permit ends, and return to my regular job at my regularly scheduled program (and nag my friend Carrie for all the episodes of White Collar I've been missing). However, was that the kind of thing they should have told my preecher?
People talk about other people to third parties constantly. Just take a look at this blog and you'll see how I often to close my beak and tell you all about what I think about this or that person. We all do that. The news themselves are often about people talking of other people and what other people do. Avertisement is also often about people talking about other people - maybe about you - and how to make sure you've got to be spoken about in a good fashion. No matter how some what to satanize this, the fact is that directly or indirectly people speak about people, and that in itself isn't a bad thing. However there's a difference between just expressing your opinion, let out some steam, help, or simply to make a point, and yet another is to talk about others to either hurt them or just for the fun of it, regardless of the consequences for the person you are talking about. Going back to the analogy of the news broadcast, there's a difference between being a malicious gossip/"entertainment" segment or a serious segment talking about the effects the acting of a person or a group can have on others.
This is, however, a difference that not everybody cares for, or not everybody sees. It's said that everybody gossips and that gossip is fun, and though usually gossip is made in such a way that it attracts your attention immediately, truth is that gossip's only goal is to entertain some people while hurting someone. Think about it, when have you heard gossip where nothing negative was told about someone? Yes, news may spread about something positive happening to someone, but that's not "that fun". In gossip, even the most good natured news have to be peppered with a negative comment. If someone is leaving the company - maybe they didn't get well with someone, or maybe they've got some shady connection in that other company, or they are escaping something nasty they did. If someone started training, then maybe they are being cheated and what to be fit for the competition. Why is that? Because in the core of gossip there's always envy embedded.
People can talk in a good natured way about others, with concern about ailing family members or friends, with happiness for the success of others, or even pride, even with sadness about things that have gone wrong. These things are also said to the proper audience: a personal journal, another family member, friends, counselors, priests or preechers, physicians, psychologists, bosses, coworkers... and even into the black, misterious silence of the cybernet through a blog or a forum... or a tweet. In your heart and with your heart you know when information is shared with pure intentions or with ill ones. A lot of rules could be sought and found, and then those rules would be broken by the good natured talks and abused by the ill ones. Also, what could be good for you could not be good for your neighbour.
A friend could be concerned about your health and call your partner or your parents to know about you and how are you doing, or for instance to let them know that they see you in bad shape. This honest concern could be taken either as a kind token of their love, or as an uncalled intrusion. Yes, it is a complicated business, and though we can't stop doing it, often we may cause harm when we want to do something good, BUT instincively we all know when something is said or done or hinted at with the sole purpose of doing harm. That can't be masked.
In the end, I believe we should always be careful, and try to know those around us as best as we can, so we do know not only, whom to be careful with about what's said or done around them, but also, to know what something we mean well could turn bad, or when something that may seem bad to us would be done with a good purpose.
About my family and they speaking to the preecher, in case you wonder, yes, I believe that they were ok to tell the preecher, since the preecher is there to ease the spiritual worries of their flocks and we are part of the flock. If he knows the worries of our familes, he's able to help us all better. I think it was right, but for you, it could be wrong.