It’s All in Your Mind

It’s All in Your Mind

Pentecost 46

The Greeks used their mythologies not only as an explanation for what they saw but also for what they experienced. Like most cultures with a strong oral tradition, these stories changed with each telling. However, the Greeks scribed their stories, assigning people to write them down. Thus, there were basic commonalities with their stories. Nevertheless, mankind being composed of humans, even with their mythologies recorded for posterity, there were variations. In other words, people gossiped about their deities.

There is a great deal of science involved in the basic act of gossip. People tend to join with others who believe the same version of gossip and some prefer not to associate with groups that disbelieve a certain aspect of gossip. For instance, those who call themselves pagans are included to tell stories about the deities of nature and feel they live a very basic and simple lifestyle that honors the very core of the essence of life. Others call such people witches and feel no shame in spreading stories about them. At one point, people thought to be witches were killed, simply based upon perception with little or no real evidence to justify their deaths.

First we should explore exactly what gossip is and quite honestly, that is not an easy thing to do. Gossip can be as innocent as casual conversation and as harmful as malicious rumors. Oddly enough, the word “gossip” comes from an ancient English word meaning Godparent or sponsor and is a combination of two words which meant God and sibling or relative. It’s original meaning warped into meaning a casual acquaintance and then in the nineteenth century to meaning idle talk.

Gossip was once a learning tool. It was a type of vocal newspaper and helped to unify people. Mankind began as primates who lived in clans and existed by living off the land. The ability to speak allowed for the exchange of ideas and for the growth of the speech centers in our brains that interpret language. Unlike many animals, the human body allows our windpipe to access our thorax and vocal chords. We are able to vocalize and sing with intention, unlike other animals.

It may not seem like it but the accomplishments of a toddler in learning language and how to vocalize and say specific words is actually a minor miracle. By age six, the average child knows almost thirteen thousand words and by age twenty-one, their vocabulary has increased to sixty thousand words. Some psychologists believe this evolution of language encouraged man to develop the ability to master the politics of social living. Not only do we speak to groups of people, we have learned how to interpret their nonverbal language, those signs that are indicative of feelings, emotions, and motives. These skills have allowed human tribes to exist and coexist rather than feel in direct competition and kill each other simply for being alive.

Gossip serves three very important functions in our world today. First it is a type of networking. There are social hierarchies in everyone’s life. Networking gives us a sense of belonging and expanding our community, our tribe. These connections lead to improved health, great wealth, and overall happiness. Gossip also becomes a key element in the world of influence, both in a negative sense and a positive sense. Political candidates utilize gossip to officially not say what they what known. Lastly, gossip creates social alliances as mentioned earlier. People will congregate with those who believe the same thing they do.

Gossip becomes an uncertain tool because societies are ever-changing. They are not stagnant but evolve daily. The problem is in defining exactly what gossip is and in determining whether or not you believe it to be true. In our world today of instant global access to words spoken sixty second after they are uttered, it might seem like everything would be truth. That would be wrong. There often is a huge difference between what gossip is and what fact is. Gossip may begin as fact but, like the mythologies of ancient times, the facts somehow get told and then retold with subtle variations that, after a time, can become the opposite of the truth. Some psychologists believe the intention for telling the story determines whether it is fact or gossip. Sometimes, though, life is just not that simple.

Psyche was a Greek goddess who was engaged in some casual conversation with her sisters. They asked her to describe her husband and when she admitted she had never actually seen him, they began telling her he was a monster. Psyche had never actually seen her husband, having once been a mortal princess and began to believe her sisters’ stories. That night she hid a knife and candle so as to see his face and be ready to kill him if he indeed was a monster. This is not the end of her story but really just the beginning for Psyche. Although she allowed her sisters’ gossip to sway her mind and influence her actions, she does eventually reconcile with her husband, the god of love known as Eros or Cupid.

The story of Psyche is said to be an allegory, a story with a deeper meaning that just the basic story. Her name in Greek means both butterfly and soul. Regardless of what is said about us, we can continue to live and transform our lives and explore our soul. Eleanor Roosevelt stated: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Live according to your beliefs, not idle gossip.

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