Monday, May 29, 2017
what to do with slander
Hermas talks about slander today in A Year with the Church Fathers.
He tells us not to even listen to it. But I can see that being a little problematic. Unless you run from the room with your fingers in your ears going "la la la! I can't hear you!" you're probably going to need another strategy.
I suggest doing one of two things. If you can tactfully change the subject, then do that. Keep love in mind as you decide not to take the words of the other person into consideration, and just move on to something else. I have also heard that simply saying nothing is effective, too. It takes the wind out of the sails of the one who is gossiping or slandering.
The thing you don't want to do is encourage the gossip to continue. You don't want to contribute to it. And most of all, you don't want to treat the victim of the gossip differently after the conversation.
On one hand, we want to be holy and love people. On the other hand, we don't want to come across as a sanctimonious snob who thinks we're better than everyone else... which is what might happen if you start criticizing someone for gossiping. If you have an opportunity to gently instruct the person in a loving way that gossip is not good, then "admonishing sinners" IS an act of spiritual mercy. But these times are few and far between.
Most of the time, I think, just changing the subject to something more loving is all that is needed.
God, please help us to spread love and not gossip.