>This one is ancient. I tell it to my classes or to my peer mediators and ask for their interpretation. Pull up a carpet square or a floor pillow, listen closely, and think. Share with your tweens.
A long, long time ago, a young man set a goal for improving himself. We call them New Year’s resolutions, but way back then he simply called it a goal. He wanted to stop being a gossip. And since he wasn’t going to gossip any more, he thought he’d find a way to make amends for the gossip he had spread in his past.
The young man went to the rabbi because he was the wisest man in town. The rabbi’s advice was valued and trusted. He asked the rabbi, “How can I make it up to the people about whom I’ve gossiped? I want to fix everything.”
The rabbi told him, “Go get a chicken from the butcher. Bring it to me. On the way, pluck all the feathers from the chicken so that it’s ready to cook when you get here.”
Now, back in the time of this story, the butcher wasn’t a clean glass counter at the Piggly Wiggly. The chickens didn’t come in a nice shrink-wrapped package. The butcher himself went out back, grabbed a chicken, wrung its neck, and then handed over the carcass, feathers and all. And his shop was on the opposite end of town from the rabbi’s home, so the young man had quite a way to go before he delivered his poultry to the rabbi’s stove. To save time, he plucked the feathers as he walked briskly across the town.
The young man arrived at the rabbi’s home. “Here it is,” he panted. “It looks like a good one. And I plucked every last feather. Have I made amends? Have I fixed the damage done by my past gossip?”
“Thank you,” the rabbi replied. “To fix the damage done by your past gossip, you now need to find all of the feathers from this chicken and put them together again.”
“But…but…I can’t do that! They are all over town! They have flown to the winds! It would be impossible to gather them all again!” the young man sputtered.
“Ah, and so it is with gossip. Once released, it flies to the winds. It spreads all over town. It is impossible to make amends. To truly stop gossip from hurting, you must not spread it to begin with.”