The occupant in the unit next to Mr. Stone’s was the quintessential nosy neighbor. Long retired, the old man had no hobbies of his own and very little company to keep him busy. As a result, he spent the majority of his days involved in the business of others, even if only from behind drawn blinds.
The few acquaintances he did have had gotten used to his stories. He was forever suspicious, always coming to conclusions, judging, nitpicking and generally assuming the worst of everyone. After a rash of missing items in the neighborhood began to get the community up in arms, he was unable to keep his distrust of Mr. Stone to himself. His talk worked his way through the many different veins of the small neighbourhood, gathering momentum until it had reached a pitch strong enough to culminate with the arrest of his neighbour on the suspicion of theft.
Proven innocent within a matter of days, Mr. Stone sued his nosy neighbor for wrongful accusation.
Standing before the judge, the elderly gossiper proclaimed: “They were only comments! They didn’t hurt anyone!”
Before passing sentence the judge asked him to write down everything he had said. Doing so, he was then ordered to cut them up and scatter them on his way home. “Come back to hear your sentence tomorrow,” the judge told him.
The next day, standing in the courtroom, the judge gave him a straight-faced stare and said, “Alright, before we proceed with the sentencing I’m going to request that you leave the building and gather each piece of paper that you cut up and threw away yesterday. Once you’ve returned with them, we will continue.”
“What!?” the old man asked, exasperated. “That’s impossible! The wind has taken them all! There’s no way I could ever get each of them back!”
The judge smiled slightly and replied: “In the same way, loose talk has the ability to destroy a man’s reputation beyond all repair. If you were a master of your mouth, you would not be a slave to your words, and thus, you would not be standing before me, here, today.”
Source: A long-circulating internet anecdote with no known author. While it may seem initially trite, pause for a moment and think of your friends, families & neighbors… Sometimes, we can spend so long in a particular environment that our perspective becomes lost, leaving what should be obviously aberrant as the ‘norm’. Simple stories such as these serve as a gentle reminder to reconnect with the deeper faculties we all possess, but have largely forgotten.