Before clicking play on Netflix to watch Harry & Meghan or purchasing a copy of Spare, consider how doing so will add to the sordid affair.
Unless you’re still sailing to Hobart from Sydney with a broken mast and no satellite dish, you’re hearing the names of Harry, Meghan, William and Kate every few hours. With the launch of the Netflix series, and now with Harry’s memoir released and a series of television interviews ready to play, everyone is talking about Britain’s Royal family and offering their thoughts, opinions, and evaluations. It’s as though we’re all the butler with eyes on the inside of the Winsdors’ hearts.
Harry and Meghan are everywhere. As much as I’m trying to avoid them, the latest revelations are headline news for newspapers and the late-night news on tv. I’ve taken to wearing noise-cancelling headphones everywhere I walk (metaphorically speaking) as I way to block out the latest stories of who did what to whom. And because repeating them here makes me an accessory to gossip I have no intention to repeat the stories here. Although, I am tempted to make one comment about the scary headline of ‘brother fights brother’. Have there ever been 2 brothers who’ve never punched, kicked, or wrestled each other? Beating up my baby brother was familial routine…until he outgrew me!
Leaving aside my own family history, I’m not writing to offer a commentary about the Royal family or to take sides. Doing so would shred the very point that I wish to make. I want to offer a short word to everyone who is quick to read, watch, and repeat opinions about what really is 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. (11:13)
A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. (16:28)
Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. (26:2)
Participating in the mob may give us a certain degree of justification and even 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 for some odd reason, 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 a guilty of doing so…even at church as though faux concern legitimises the action! 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. (18:8)
The age of the internet accelerates the pace of rumour spreading from the 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 thing is, by watching and reading and gossiping, we’re leaping into a carefully managed trap. We’re suckers for a good juicy story about a family imploding. And what’s bigger than that family being our King and Princes? Far from satisfying our own grubby hearts, we’re falling for the very thing publishers and marketers are dreaming of. They’re gambling on our ability to read and repeat another person’s private life. The reality is, we’re adding just a little more oxygen to build the bonfire no one needs out bush in the middle of summer.
I’m not .suggesting who is right and who is wrong, or who in the Royal family has said or done what to whom. Not at all. 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 private lives is certainly unsanitary and our public gaze is guilty of participating and even egging it on. I won’t bet my crown on it, but 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 gossiping isn’t a virtue. It really is quite ugly and unhelpful. So let’s keep our eyes, ears and noises out of this story.