Observation of this particular weakness of the human flesh, male or female, leads one to the discovery that gossip arises directly and unmistakably from a feeling of inferiority. The gossip actually feels inferior either to the person he’s gossiping about or to people in general. The psychologists have undoubtedly known this fact a long time, but it’s good to discover it for oneself, for both its comfort and its curative effects.
After one has learned this particular truth he will realize that it is a sign of weakness in himself and that others will recognize it as such in him.
The whisper monger is working the old fallacy of trying to elevate himself by tearing down someone else; or of trying to pull others down to his level because he can’t rise to theirs.
Whether the dealer in dirt is male or female makes little difference. There is actually little to choose between them and neither makes a pretty sound. Certainly neither is practicing A.A.
But there is a cure. Every gossiper needs a listener. Gossip must have a transmission belt for it to do any damage. It cannot travel on its own power.
Wouldn’t gossip wither at its source if there was no one to listen to it?
As long as there is even one gossip in A.A. there will be too many. But, their number could be reduced effectively and quickly if no one would stop to listen to them. Their whisperings would do no damage if no one would pass along anything they have to say.
Even though a gossip is usually fascinated with his own words he would soon tire of them if he found that he was whispering to himself. Then what he was saying would cause no unhappiness because there would be none to hear and pass it along.
Perhaps then the remedy is not to indict the gossip. After all, his behavior is one symptom of a diseased mind and a sick soul, and he would not be gossiping about anyone for any reason if he had been able to comprehend even the barest rudiments of the A.A. philosophy. Obviously, he doesn’t know what A.A. is, no matter how many meetings he may be attending, or speeches he’s giving, or committees he’s participating in, or how much he goes about giving lip service to A.A. No one can put the real meaning of A.A. into words with the same tongue that’s gossiping.
The gossip is sick. And like anyone with a contagious disease he should be quarantined. This is a simple process. Just don’t listen to him. That not only will help to spare the victims of gossip; it will also help the gossip to recover from his disease.
There is a specific cure for the gossip. There also is a cure for all of the personality ills that afflict many of us. A.A. offers both the diagnosis and the treatment—that is, the principles and the philosophy and the way of life which embody the spirit rather than the mechanics of A.A. By seeking to live this way of life and apply the principles, the necessary corrective process is put into operation. The more successfully and completely one can live the principles the nearer he will come to correcting his character defects.
So why not focus attention on the means of correction and the goal we all seek? The song may be worn out but it’s still good philosophy to “accentuate the positive.” This calls for concentration on the mental images of what we want to be and what we can be. The one who concentrates consistently enough will correct his defects because no one really wants to be a gossip, a spoiled brat, a bossy run-it-all or any of the other types of bores, nuisances and menaces.
Greenich Village, New York
Vol. 3 No. 7
Copyright © by The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.