"Most people never advance beyond junior high school emotionally."
Rumor. Gossip. Slander.
As adults, we claim to be above these things. We've been taught that this kind of behavior is unacceptable, dishonorable, and childish. We have lives to lead, and more important things to do with our time than bend an ear in the direction of malicious whispers. Yet most people, perhaps all, jump on the bandwagon at one time or another and form lynch mobs against some individual or group, deserving or not.
"Psst! Did you know about Judy? I hear Tommy got her pregnant and she had to get an abortion!"
When emotions run high, honor gets forgotten. These so-called grownups get so wrapped up in their offences that they neglect to stop and consider whether they are even being truthful in their accusations. What matters to them is justifying their anger, and nothing else. It doesn't occur to them that perhaps there is no justification, or that their anger is being misdirected. It doesn't concern them that they may be crossing the line of propriety and respect for themselves as much as the target. They want to cry "foul". They want to drown in their own rage and take someone down with them.
"She's such a slut! I never liked her anyway. She told me once she almost broke up with Tommy because she wanted to sleep with Aaron."
These tantrums are far more dangerous in adults than children. People get hurt. There are repercussions, and no participant in these games comes out of it undamaged. How can you trust someone who has betrayed another's confidence? How can you truly believe that someone who turns so easily against another won't turn against you? These are the prices paid. Trust is lost. Honor is lost. Faith in our peers is lost. Unfortunately, those who play these slander games convince themselves they're really justified and rarely recognize that this distrust is what they are creating for themselves.
Instead, they wonder later why it happens to them.
"But they meant nothing to me, baby. I LOVE you!"
As adults, we carry an obligation to step outside of our emotions and view interactions objectively. Granted, as feeling creatures, this isn't always feasible, which is why certain codes of conduct are created by society and taught to us while young. Various forms of the Golden Rule, a sense of confidentiality, loyalty, and honesty are hammered into us. Emotions aside, we must be respectful, even of our enemies, real or imagined. We must be forthright and truthful, and take responsibility for our words and actions. We are taught to seek higher ground, to rise above the pettiness of these adolescent games. It is the only way to establish lasting trust and honor.
If we cannot face our enemies, and must instead resort to creating dissension and lies in secret, we are cowards and have found no wisdom at all.
We have no one to blame but ourselves.
All unattributed quotes are fabricated. But we've all heard them before.