Before clicking play on Netflix to watch “Harry & Meghan” or purchasing a copy of Spare consider how doing so will contribute to the current scandal.
Unless you’re still sailing to Hobart from Sydney with a broken mast and no satellite dish, you have likely been hearing the names of Harry, Meghan, William, and Kate rather frequently recently. With the release of the Netflix series, along with Harry’s memoir, and sundry television interviews, everyone is talking about Britain’s Royal Family and sharing their thoughts, opinions, and evaluations. It’s as though we all fancied ourselves as palace insiders with the scoop on the private lives of Windsor.
Have there ever been two brothers who have never punched, kicked, or wrestled each other?
Harry and Meghan are everywhere. Despite my attempts to avoid them, the latest revelations are headline news in newspapers and on late-night television. I’ve taken to wearing noise-cancelling headphones (metaphorically speaking) to block out the latest stories of who did what to whom. Because the act would make me an accessory to gossip, I have no intention of repeating these stories here—although, I am tempted to make one comment about the scary headline of “Brother Fights Brother!” Have there ever been two brothers who have never punched, kicked, or wrestled each other? Beating up my younger brother was a familial routine … until he outgrew me!
Leaving aside my own family history, I’m not writing to offer a commentary on the Royal Family or to take sides. But I would like to offer a short word to everyone who is tempted to read, watch, and repeat opinions about what is, in fact, a sad state of affairs. Let’s not do those things.
There is wisdom in the book of Proverbs:
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Prov 11:13)
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Prov 16:28)
“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Prov 26:2)
Participating in the mob may give us a certain degree of justification and even a sense of moral uprightness. It allows us to feel part of the crowd. We’ll have something to say at work while everyone lines up to grab another cup of stale coffee. The reality is, all we are doing is gossiping.
Gossip is one of the oldest sins, and it is too often treated as an acceptable one. We all know that sharing another person’s secrets is a no-go zone. We all know that breaking trust and retelling personal details can rip apart a friendship, and yet most of us have been guilty of doing so—even at church (though we may use faux concern to legitimise our sin). Whether the subject of gossip is the Royal Family or my neighbour or best friend, take note of this Proverb:
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Prov 18:8)
The age of the internet accelerates the pace of rumour spreading from old-school gossip magazines and water coolers. Twitter and Netflix are the latest machines for globalising gossip. My secret today can be the topic of public scrutiny tomorrow.
The internet has dramatically increased the speed at which rumours can spread, with platforms such as Twitter and Netflix facilitating the global dissemination of gossip. My secret today can be the topic of public scrutiny tomorrow.
As we read, watch and spread such gossip, we’re the suckers.
Yet, even as we read, watch and spread such gossip—enjoying the opportunity to judge those higher up the social table—we’re the ones who are the suckers. As we indulge our grubby desires, we are falling into a carefully constructed trap set by publishers and marketers who profit from our predictable desires. We are simultaneously making them wealthier, ourselves less compassionate, and our society less civil.
Once again, I’m not presenting any theories about who is right or wrong in the royal dust-up. Does the Harry-Meghan saga boil down to money? Is it a case of old fashion greed? Or revenge? Or is it about a man defending his wife against torrents of abuse? One thing we do know is this, I don’t know the truth, and neither do you. The public outing of these private lives is unsavoury, and looking on makes us complicit. Also, I’m pretty sure the Windsors can do without my psychoanalysing.
I hope that with time and humility and eventual public boredom, these two brothers and their families are able to find whatever repentance and forgiveness are required in their hearts and be reconciled. For our part, perhaps the wisest thing to do is remember that gossip is no virtue. It really is quite ugly and unhelpful. Let’s keep our eyes, ears and noses out of other people’s stories.
First published at murraycampbell.net