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An old Jewish tale well illustrates the consequences of spreading hurtful gossip. Told in various forms, the gist of the story is as follows.

A man went about town slandering the town’s wise man. Later, the malicious gossip realized his wrong and went to the wise man to ask for forgiveness, offering to do whatever was necessary to make amends. The wise man had one request: The gossip was told to go and take a feather pillow, cut it open and scatter the feathers to the wind. Though puzzled by the request, the gossip did as he was instructed and then returned to the wise man.

“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.

“First, go and gather all the feathers,” the wise man responded.

“But how can I? The wind has already scattered them.”

“It is difficult to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feather.”

The lesson is clear. Once spoken, words cannot be retrieved.  It may be impossible to undo the hurt they cause. Before spreading a bit of gossip, we are to remember that we are, in effect, about to scatter feathers in the wind

By Eyong Debra

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