14 March 2007. Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent
Luke 11, 14-23: Slander
The present election fever will grow worse. And the scenario will be of people from different sides discrediting, belittling, defaming, or gossiping about the other; hoping that their words would persuade voters not to vote for them. The Gospel today therefore comes at the right time. The Gospel story tells us about the slander the enemies of Jesus took when they realized that they couldn’t oppose him fairly even in debate.
We slander another person if we say things that are false and defamatory about them. It consists of lies or false reports circulated maliciously, usually behind the back of the person concerned, with the purpose of injuring his character or his reputation. Gossip is slander. Whether true or false, gossip is repeated from maliciousness, thoughtlessness and spread abroad. You know what people say about secrets? They said that some secrets are worth keeping. Others are too good to keep.
In addition, there is another form of slander: it is called aspersion. Aspersion is accomplished by insinuating, by casting reflections, making damaging implications, by discrediting, especially in a slight or belittling way. For example, you say that a certain abstract painting is excellent, while implying at the same time, that any normal person could do it also, “Alam mo, super ganda ng abstract painting mo! Naaalala ko nga ang anak ko.” (You know your abstract painting is incredible! It reminds me of my son!”)
Slander has an immediate and a lasting effect. First, it is immediate, because the human mind has the tendency to see the worse in people. Our ear has the tendency to hear the misfortunes of others, the bad side of people, or the wrong other people commit. Proof: for many newspapers, real news is bad news — it is what makes it to the front pages. The ‘good’ news you find somewhere in the inside pages. Second, it has a lasting effect. People tend to remember these malicious stories. For the victims, it is worse: it takes time to regain lost reputation. Just remember table conversations: we repeat and repeat these stories over a bottle C2, a coke or a beer. Gossip makes long stories juicier and meatier! They said, nothing makes a long story short, than the arrival of the person you are talking about!
Jesus said in the Gospel, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” When we slander others no matter what the reason, whether losing in a discussion or as a form of retaliation, we become like the very person whom we are against. We put ourselves not on the side of Jesus, but stoop to a lower level. Furthermore, slander does not form friendships and community life; it divides people; it scatters them. Thus, conscious or not, we sadly contribute to the scattering — entirely opposite to the Kingdom of God who unites people in love.