We’ve already discussed good ol’ gossip’s tendency to keep up public standards (which warms my heart, to be sure, but apparently isn’t an argument to everyone’s taste). I’ve just discovered that gossip does some private good.
She-who-shall-be-nameless just suggested to me that we dress our daughter in a little graduation gown and I carry her with me throughout the commencement ceremonies. This is horribly kitschy, but I’m horribly sentimental, so I was inclined to assent.
Luckily gossip saved me. I sat through several BYU graduations and thus through a multitude of proud parent-graduates hauling their tikes through the graduation line. I didn’t take this latter sitting down, so to speak. I made a little biting comment each time, each time maybe a little snarkier and maybe a little funnier, and, well, I wasn’t very nice, OK? So I’ve put myself on record against that kind of kitsch and now I can’t ignore the kitschiness even though I want to. There’ll be no graduating daughter for me. My gossip has saved me from myself.
We have here a small example of a larger truth. Gossip doesn’t just warn off other people, it warns off the gossiper himself. What we won’t do solely for God we will sometimes do to avoid public embarrassment, and what we won’t do to avoid public embarassment we will sometimes do because we have in gossip so demolished other people’s self-deceptions that we find it difficult to decieve ourselves. God makes honey from carcasses, and gossip into a covenant with Him to do good.
The irony is that gossip will equally well serve as a self-committing pact with the Other Person; it depends if we’re gossiping against bad or not. The irony is that when I started thinking of gossip in the way I’ve described, as an agent in God’s efforts to commit us to good, I found myself in the presence of a high and holy feeling that if I’d had it at those BYU graduations would have made it impossible for me to criticize those students. The irony is that I really wish I could ignore the kitsch and take my daughter through the graduation line.