Spreading Gossip

Many years ago in a small town, an old man took a dislike to one of his neighbours and started spreading rumours that he was a thief. He kept this up for some time. As a result, when some things went missing in the town, the neighbour was eventually arrested.
After a few days the police realised that it was not him and the man was released and, as you can imagine, felt very upset with the old man. So he took him to court.

In front of the judge the old man said, “They were just comments, they didn’t harm anyone”.
The judge replied, “I will sentence you tomorrow when you return. For now I have one instruction. I want you to sit and write down all the things you said about this young man on a piece of paper. Then, take a pair of scissors and cut it up into small pieces. On your drive home, I want you to throw all the pieces out of the window. On this one occasion we will overlook the littering. On your return tomorrow I will pass sentence”.
The old man agree and did exactly as the judge asked.

In the morning the old man stood in front of the judge and confirmed what he had done. The judge then said, “Before I pass sentence, I want you to go back and collect all the pieces of paper that you threw out of the car window yesterday”.
The old man replied, “I can’t do that! The wind has taken them and spread them all over the place. I won’t know where to find them”.
Then the judge replied, “In the same way simple words and comments may destroy the honour of a person to such an extent that nobody will be able to fix it. If you can’t say something good about somebody then don’t say anything at all. Let’s all be masters of our mouths so we won’t become the slavers of our words. Gossips are worse than thieves because they steal another person’s dignity, honour, credibility and reputation which are impossible to restore. Remember this, when your foot slips you can regain your balance but when your tongue slips you can never recover your words”.